NEW RICHLAND-HARTLAND-ELLENDALE-GENEVA AREA

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Most of the time, when I walk the hallways of NRHEG, or even out in our communities, I get called Mr. D. That’s just fine with me; it’s easier to say than Domeier, and easier to spell too, which I suspect is why it gets used so often!

So you would imagine that Mrs. D would refer to my lovely bride, Michelle. But you would be wrong. Mrs. D is one of our unsung heroes around here, Georgia Dinneen.

Georgia and I were both hired at NRHEG in 1996, part of a group of 13 new teachers. We were thrown on a bus and given a tour of the district as part of our new teacher workshop. Of course, Georgia is from here, so it was all old hat to her.

Mrs. Dinneen and I shared a common trait those first few years, even though I taught English, while she was in the business department. We both (along with Mrs. Schoenrock) started our days in New Richland and traveled over to Ellendale for the afternoon. We often commented that we enjoyed that break in our day, used to collect our thoughts and prepare for teaching a vastly different group of students in the junior high.

Our traveling days are long behind us, but it always brings smiles to our faces when we remember getting to Ellendale in time to have lunch with the office ladies. I garnered quite an education as a young man fresh out of college from those women. In fact, if you ask her, I’m sure Georgia will share with you why May 1 is the most important day of the year, one of many things I learned under her tutelage.

Mrs. D is an outstanding educator. She teaches such an array of classes, including junior high keyboarding and accounting. Plus, she helps plan the Washington, D.C., trips with Mr. Churchill and stays involved in so many aspects of the school. You can often spot Georgia and her husband Denny at sporting events and other extracurriculars.

One of the most important things Georgia does at NRHEG is organize the Veterans Day program. It is so important that our students have an awareness of what these men and women have sacrificed for our country, and every year is testimony to the amount of time and effort it takes to put this plan together. In recent years, we’ve had the privilege of listening to Tim Walz and Al Franken at NRHEG. These are not easy people to get on Veterans Day, but Georgia has been diligent in keeping after them to make an appearance. The students at NRHEG are better for these experiences, and I know they respect our veterans more, thanks in large part to Georgia’s work.

Georgia is so active in our community as well, especially as a cancer survivor, and helping to lead efforts to eradicate that enemy which takes too many people from us. I can only imagine that when Mrs. D is out and about, she has that same infectious smile for others that I see constantly around our classrooms. She epitomizes so much of our Panther Pride motto with her positivity and respect. While she’ll certainly let you know if something is nagging at her, she does it with a smile and quickly is refocused on positive ideas.

And of course, Georgia is a HUGE Minnesota Twins fan. I know she’s definitely had better seats at Target Field than I ever have, and I’m justifiably jealous! She’s stuck by them through thick and thin and has been nice enough to bring back Homer Hankies during playoff seasons for those of us not able to attend those playoff games. One can only hope her Doug (Mientkiewicz, former first baseman) might get a shot at perhaps being a bench coach this next season!

While not all 13 teachers that started in 1996 are still here (by last count, I think there are still six of us), we carry on from a good group of educators. I know Georgia is nearing a time when she can start thinking about retirement, but when she does decide to hang it up, I know I’ll miss the smile and nod that goes along with our greetings in the hall. Me: “Mrs. D.” Her: “Mr. D.”

I also know that Georgia would want to join me in encouraging everyone to get out and vote on November 4. It’s a very important year nationally, statewide, and locally. We’re voting on senators, representatives, a governor, and school board members. If you read this before 7 p.m. on October 30, stop by the NR school for our Meet the Candidates forum. Our school district is an important part of our communities, and the people who want to lead it will be sharing their views.

Word of the Week: This week’s word is ganef, which means a thief or rascal, as in, “The voters had to sniff out the ganefs in order to keep them out of public office.” Impress your friends and confuse your enemies!

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