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TRENTON, N.D. (AP) — Four decades of teaching will end May 24 when Ruth Folkestad dismisses her last class from Trenton High School just outside Williston.
"My dad taught me how to play cribbage when I was just a young girl," Folkestad told The Williston Herald (http://bit.ly/1kCJhvm ). She picked up mathematics quickly to keep up with her father.
This, she said, was the first step down a lifelong road of teaching math.
Being Trenton High School's math teacher was the first job Folkestad got after graduating, and she never left.
She has had multiple generations of students sitting at the desks before her over the years, she said, but so far, she doesn't think she's had any grandchildren of students.
Folkestad even taught the children of the school librarian, Gayle Larson, who said she has been working at Trenton for about 24 years.
"They're in their 30s now," Larson said of her children.
"My son had no problems with college algebra," she said. "My other son tested out of calculus."
She credits Folkestad's tutelage for her children's mathematical prowess.
"It was wonderful," she said. "She's very good at what she does."
This interview happened in the school library. Folkestad was nearby, picking up papers and books and tidying up the long bulletin board by the window.
Larson spoke with the reporter while sitting in a wheelchair. She had hurt her foot sliding down the stairs on some late winter snow, she said.
Folkestad and a student, Roseanna Johnson, had volunteered to help her with library duties while she recovered.
"Ruth and Rosie decided to come and help me," she said. "It was such a surprise when they came in."
"She's done about everything I think you could possibly do," said Steven Cascaden, the school superintendent.
He lists off clubs and extracurricular activities the teacher is involved in.
Honor society, student council, cheerleading coach — Folkestad has worn many hats over the decades, Cascaden said.
Perhaps most importantly, she was the school's historian.
"She has a great memory," Cascaden said. "We go to Ruth for a lot of questions."
When it comes to the schools past practices, Cascaden said, Ruth is invaluable.
"How did this happen, and how do we do this — you know, based on past history?" Cascaden asked hypothetically, echoing questions asked of Folkestad.
"Ruth is a true professional," he said. "She's going to be sorely missed."
Folkestad plans to get some much-needed home repairs out of the way after retiring, she said. She also looks forward to teaching her water aerobics class again this year at the new recreation center in Williston.
Folkestad is rather cavalier about her impending retirement.
Having free time away from teaching is going to be enjoyable, she said, and if she ever misses it, she'll come back as a substitute teacher.
As for her students .
"I'm sure there'll be some students that miss me, and some students that'll say 'I'm glad she's gone,' you know?" she said.
Information from: Williston Herald, http://www.willistonherald.com
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