Petrina Haag, a teacher who has taught within the Trinity School District for over 40 years, announced the 2020 school year was officially her last year as a teacher and is retiring.
Haag has been teaching for 44 years, 41 of them within the Trinity School District as a second grade teacher. Teaching has always been a passion for Haag and stated that she has been living her dream for over the past 40 years of her career.
“They meant living out my passion and dream,” Haag said. “Since I was about in the first grade I wanted to be a teacher, so I did what I had to do to become a teacher and I was living out my dream.”
Haag added, “I just want to say thank you to all the parents and students, the staff and faculty that I’ve worked with, it wasn't always simple, wasn’t always easy, and it wasn’t always perfect, but it sure was good. It was a great ride.”
Haag got her inspiration for wanting to become a teacher in the first grade when she learned how to read. A year later, after having her all-time favorite teacher, she knew her goal in life was to become a second grade teacher. After graduating from Dickinson State University, Haag decided to pursue her dream of becoming a teacher. In 1979, Haag officially became a second-grade teacher within the Trinity School District and never left.
“I guess I stayed probably because I feel so strongly about the faith and we’re all about saving souls,” she said. “That was my number one goal and I was so happy that I got to teach second grade because then I would be able to teach the sacraments of first holy communion and first penance so that was really a plus.”
While Haag admitted it was not always an easy-going career, the staff made it easier to help get through the stressful situations. Staff members told The Dickinson Press, Haag is a “legend” when it comes to teaching and teamwork.
“It’s kind of humbling,” she said. “You’re never doing anything on your own, you’re always all in it together and you’re there to support each other and help each other out and it’s so nice that if you don’t have an idea or way to do something someone else can … I was never doing things by myself. It was a team effort, but I was always glad to join in and help out whenever I could and give my support whenever I could, and so did they.”
Although Haag is ready to move on and mainly focus on being a grandmother for her eight grandchildren, she was unable to have the perfect “class dismissed” sound off due to COVID-19.
“It’s definitely not what I expected it would be,” she said. “But, it kinda challenged me to be the best teacher I could be and to remember that a true teacher never stops learning herself …. It was sad because you couldn’t be there for the hugs and the goodbye high 5’s but it still brought out the best in everyone so that was a good thing too.”
As for all teachers, both new and experienced, Haag had one last thing to teach before calling it quits.
“Teachers do have an impact, even though they don’t know it at the time, they don’t realize how far reaching it can be,” she said. “With technology taking over so much in so many different areas, I would really stress that nothing can take the place of the teacher, your personal interests in making the child feel important and that they matter, show that you care, that is going to go so, so far in opening doors so that they’re willing to learn from you.
Haag added, “You really have to make those good connections in the beginning because all children want to know that they are important, that they matter, and that you care … once you make those connections at the beginning of the school year, then the learning can really start blossoming.”