Holly Schjolden, 2011

Each year the Retired Members Committee sponsors the Looking to Honor One of our Own contest. People are encouraged to identify MTA active or retired members who have had an impact on their colleagues, communities and students. The 2011 winner was Holly Schjolden who recently retired from the Whitman-Hanson Regional School District. She was nominated by the staff at the Duval School.

Close your eyes for one minute and picture a Norman Rockwell painting of a first grade classroom and the teacher at the front of the room. Now open your eyes and you have a wonderful picture of the person we, the staff of Duval School, are lucky enough to work with each day.

This is why we are asking for special recognition by your office.

Holly has been teaching 48 years in the Whitman-Hanson Regional School District. She is retiring this June. She has continued to be innovative and creative. Our school librarian says, “Holly is constantly learning and challenging herself to new levels.” She is constantly striving to learn the “new” so that she can incorporate it in her first grade classroom with the children.

Holly started her teaching career at the upper elementary level. She then became assistant principal and stepped in the role of principal. She was respected by parents, staff and the children under her leadership.

About 15 years ago Holly made the decision to return to the classroom.Her beloved husband, Roy, who suffered from Multiple Sclerosis, was requiring more care and Holly felt that she could better manage her time by stepping down from her administrative position. She felt that she could give 100 percent to a classroom of children and still support her husband. Needless to say she was missed by all at Conley School, but embraced by her next assignment in Grade One. Everyone who has walked through her classroom door, both child and parent, has been blessed to have the “Holly Experience.”

Holly’s persona is one of serenity and respect. These two characteristics are emulated in her classroom. She has a way of creating not only a community of learners, but a community of children who delight in each others accomplishments. The children in her classroom had to choose a “hero” for an assignment. No surprise, many chose Mrs. Schjolden.

Holly has the same effect on the adults at Duval School. She is a role model to staff and a wonderful liaison between staff and administration. In fact, the staff is in panic mode right about now… we realize all that she does and we know it will take all of us working together to accomplish all that she spearheads each year.

Holly is a cancer survivor. When she was diagnosed and recovering she made her presence known each day. She couldn’t be in her classroom, but she met each week with the substitute teacher after school to go over the plans and discuss how each child was doing. She wanted to make sure she had that connection when she returned to her room. The team work and transition between the sub, Mrs. S., and Mrs. Schjolden was flawless. Each had a vested interest and it worked. As a side note: Holly even planned the staff Holiday Party that year… just as she had done in previous years.

Holly is involved in every aspect of school from curriculum committee, teacher leader for Professional Learning Communities, to organizing special events to making sure everyone receives a birthday card. We hope you agree with us that she is extraordinary.