Tana Aagesen is in her 18th and final year of being a teacher at Central Elementary School, where she has, during her time with Nevada Schools, taught all grades, kindergarten through fourth. Presently, she is teaching first grade.
“For many years, I was the person with the least experience at my grade level, so I moved around a lot. The last six years, I have been in first grade,” she said.
Aagesen said she came to Nevada School through a “rather interesting route.” It started after high school with her going to college for two years and deciding that she could never teach and raise a family. “So I quit school, went home and started my first career as a data entry coordinator in a family practice clinic,” she said.
She and her husband eventually had two boys, and then Aagesen started her second career as a special education paraprofessional. Eventually, her husband’s job took the family to Boone and then Ames, “so going back to school (with Iowa State right there) seemed the prudent thing to do,” she concluded. “I still wanted to teach, so at 38 years of age, I decided it was now or never and I went back to Iowa State.” Her first experience at Central Elementary was when she was an ISU student teacher with Pat Long (now retired from elementary teaching) during the fall of 1999.
Aagesen said she’s loved teaching. “I love watching the moments when kids figure things out for themselves, sort of the ‘light bulb going on’ moments. I also get a big kick out of listening to the way kids describe things,” she said.
The biggest challenge, in her opinion, is the “evolution of teacher responsibility outside the classroom. It may be a good move, but some days I want to shut the classroom door and just teach,” she admitted.
Her husband, John — they’ve been married for 37 years — retired about two years ago, and the two have plans to visit as many national parks as they can in retirement. “We’ve been to several, but have many more to visit. This summer we will start by visiting Yosemite National Park,” she said. The two may also find there is more time to spend with their sons, John Ryan of Littleton, Colo., and Michael, currently a student at ISU.
In addition to visiting parks, Aagesen looks forward to enjoying her favorite hobbies of reading and bicycling. “We will hit the trails more frequently than we were able to in the past,” she said. “And I will continue to read. I always have a book or two beside my favorite chair.” She said she also plans, while retired, to return to Central Elementary when needed as a substitute teacher.
After 18 years in the teaching field, when asked what advice she has for those entering it, Aagesen said, “Wear the pretty shoes, but have a comfortable pair in your (school) closet!”