Connie Lunde grew up on a dairy farm in west central Minnesota near the City of Elbow Lake.
Having grown up with an older sibling, Lunde was able to experience what school meant before she was ever a student.
“I have a sister who is a year older, and when she came home from school, I would erase all her papers, and then she would be very kind and compliant. She would play school with me,” explained Lunde. “I would be the teacher. The passion for teaching is kind of a ‘forever’ thing. Both of us became teachers.”
Lunde graduated from Elbow Lake/Wendell High School.
“High school was a time for exploring all my interests – music, athletics (she played high-school basketball when it was introduced by the Minnesota State High School League in 1969) and academics (including being on the honor roll and a member of the National Honor Society),” added Lunde.
After earning her high-school diploma, Lunde began the pursuit of her future career at North Dakota State University where she graduated with degrees in health, physical education and coaching.
Lunde was also a two-sport athlete in college playing both volleyball and basketball.
Lunde would earn degrees in keyboarding as well as computer application licensing from Bemidji State University. Later she earned a masters degree in educational leadership from NDSU.
According to Lunde, her parents were very determined that their children would be well educated and would value learning.
Growing up she taught Bible school with her mother, coached junior-high basketball in high school and also worked in the elementary school as a high-school student under a program called “Diversified Occupations.” The program provided a chance to work in a career area of interest while earning 25 cents per hour.
“I was blessed with amazing teachers all my life, and they sparked my interest in sharing their legacy in education,” added Lunde. “I had so many encouraging teachers all the way from first through 12th grade. I think about my high-school Spanish teacher who died at 102 years old and cared about us so much that she came to all our class reunions all the way through our 40th when she was 100.”
Lunde indicated she has powerful memories of her band director who taught her to ‘give 110 percent’ with ‘personal pride’.
“I fondly remember my senior English teacher who taught a good portion of 1984 from the top of her desk. She definitely caught and held our attention. How could I not go into education with all the powerful role models I had?” added Lunde.
Over the years Lunde has taught at Ulen-Hitterdal schools and Lake Park-Audubon schools.
She has taught everything from physical education and health to math, English and life science. She has also taught keyboarding, computer applications and anatomy.
Lunde has coached volleyball, basketball and track and various levels during her career.
Lunde came to Redwood Falls in Fall 2007 when her own children were all in college or beyond, and they encouraged her to do something different.
“I came to RASD as curriculum director and testing coordinator,” explained Lunde. “After spending one year in that position, desperately missing the classroom and feeling professionally unfulfilled, Don Yrjo recommended a transfer of positions, because there was a retirement in the health/PE department.”
For Lunde, it has been the students who have kept her going.
“Nothing is as engaging and fulfilling as the memories that students leave you with. There is always something new to learn …and then to pass on to the students,” she added.
According to Lunde, one of the most memorable moments is the first day of school and seeing all the new students she can call ‘mine’ for the next weeks or months.
Lunde indicated she received wonderful advice from a retired teacher friend who told her that “one day you just wake up and say ‘this is the best job in the world and I should share it with someone else’. That is pretty much how it went. Quite honestly, I am thankful that the retirement decision was made prior to the start of this school year, so I treasured my ‘last’ first day of school last fall and shared some very interesting ‘lasts’ with my seniors. Although this is not the way I envisioned the end of my teaching career, it just becomes another story.”
Lunde will miss her students, adding she misses them now.
“Seeing an empty classroom every day is hard,” Lunde added.
She will also miss her colleagues and the blessings of wonderful teaching friends.
In the future, Lunde just plans to do “anything I want to do” and to remember to use the word ‘no.’