A surprise party to honor Jean Graf on her retirement from St, Lawrence School was held Wednesday, June 19, from 5-7 p.m. at Speedway in Milbank. The 480 students she taught during her 21-year tenure at the Catholic grade school and their families were all invited.
Jean (Hartman) and her husband Tim Graf are relocating to the Sioux Falls area, where Tim will assume the duties of Superintendent in the Harrisburg School system. Jean says she hasn’t decided what she will do next. “I’m not sure what God has in store for me, but I am looking forward to finding out.”
In over two decades at St. Lawrence, she has, no doubt, seen more than her share of colored pumpkins and skinned knees. She has given thousands of hugs, comforted dozens of sick children, and helped to find about a million lost mittens. Along the way, she has also learned a few tricks for teaching toddlers. She says, “The most important bit of wisdom I can pass on to the teacher who takes over my position is to get to know every child as unique and show them you care. Keep your sense of humor close by.”
She says, “Whenever I see little children or pass by a school, I will always be reminded of my days at St. Lawrence. Sometimes our job gets crazy and we can lose sight of the little joys that make teaching young children so rewarding,” She also encourages her successor to “embrace your new St. Lawrence family.” “They will be there for you, and it won’t take long to recognize what a blessing they are. Your St. Lawrence family is a little bit crazy and a little bit loud, but they have a whole lot of love.”