Lynn Frederick’s plan was to be an art teacher.
But in a small town outside of Minneapolis, she began to discover what her true calling was. It was special education.
Now, after 22 years of teaching at Weyauwega-Fremont High School, Frederick is preparing to retire.
“I knew when I started the school year that I would retire. I know it’s time,” she said.
The Minneapolis native graduated from Bemidji State University with a bachelor’s degree, majoring in art and minoring in special education.
“There weren’t art positions,” she said.
Frederick’s first teaching job was as a preschool and homebound teacher for special needs students.
She later returned to college and completed graduate school at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point with a concentration in learning disabilities.
In 1989, Frederick was hired as the learning disabilities teacher at W-F High School. For the last five years, she worked with special education students as a cross-categorical special education teacher.
This school year, she had a caseload of juniors and seniors. “I feel this year has been an added blessing to end my career,” she said.
Frederick and her husband, Jim, who is a W-F graduate, moved to the area about 25 years ago. When their three sons – Brady, Tyler and Jacob – were young, she was a substitute teacher in the Waupaca School District.
During the 1980s, she taught GOAL classes for Fox Valley Technical College, both in Manawa and Waupaca.
For the past 22 years, she has taught in the same classroom, Room 300, at W-F High School.
She thanks the families of her students for sharing their children with her.
“I hope in the end, I have made a small difference in someone’s life and helped to pave their way. Being a teacher has been very rewarding to me. It is what I am most proud of along with raising my own sons,” Frederick said. “I’ve always liked seeing students in the community. They then understand, you’re not just a teacher but a person, too. I feel a sense of pride when thinking of my former students. None of us have gotten to where we are today without the help of someone on the way.”
She believes that being a parent was her biggest asset. It enabled her to be sensitive to the needs of her students.
She describes herself as a “heart teacher,” and said her passion was to help her students build their self-esteem and develop self-advocacy skills to become independent learners.
As a teacher, she looked at the needs of each individual student.
“I know,” Frederick said, “students have a special place within them that really thirsts for knowledge. One has to be creative and patient, and sometimes have a sense of humor to figure out how to reach each student’s special place. Teaching special education students is a very individual prescription.”
Her students volunteer in the community, including at Weyauwega Health Care Center and the senior nutrition site. They worked at Goodwill in Waupaca, toured area businesses and tutor elementary students.
“I know the area and community and its resources, so I worked to develop that this year,” Frederick said. “It’s been a good experience.”
She believes in positive attitudes, structure, consistency, making connections with her students and encouraging and inspiring them to grow and fulfill their life goals.
It is her hope that her students have learned to follow their passions and dreams, to focus on their strengths and to put their best effort into all that they do.
As her final year of teaching comes to an end, Frederick looks forward to new adventures. She plans to spend more time with family and friends, garden, regenerate her artistic talents, volunteer and to travel and enjoy outdoor activities with her husband.
Frederick hopes to continue to make a difference by sharing her time and talents, as she is happiest when helping others.
“I’m sure I’m going to be a little sad. It’s the end of my career. I’m sad but proud,” she said of retiring. “I wouldn’t change a thing. I’m happy to have been a part of these kids’ lives.”