Sisters retire as full-time Madison educators
By CHUCK CLEMENT, Staff Reporter
Two sisters who have worked for decades as educators in Madison will retire this spring -- with a certain amount of reluctance, because they still enjoy teaching children.
Sandy McLeod Breuer (left) and Tamara Osterberg will retire this spring from their full-time positions as Madison educators.
Sandy McLeod Breuer and Tamara Osterberg of the Madison Central School District will say goodbye to full-time teaching this spring and look forward to spending more time with their families.
Breuer has worked for 35 years as a speech therapist among the Madison schools with students from kindergarten age to 21 years old. Using speech and talk therapy, she would help boys and girls who had such difficulties as using proper language and grammar, stuttering and autism. Breuer's students attended Madison's public schools and St. Thomas School or were enrolled with ECCO, a development assistance program in Madison.
Osterberg started teaching kindergarten in Madison during 1976, initially 1/2-day classes and then the schools switched to full-day classes in 1998.
Neither of them expressed any eagerness to leave the teaching profession.
"It's the toughest decision you have to make," Breuer said.
Osterberg delayed making her departure from the classroom.
"It's taken me a year-and-a-half," Osterberg said. "I thought about it during the previous school year, and I couldn't."
Another retirement coincides with their retirements from teaching. A third McLeod sister, Marla Bjerke, submitted her retirement papers this year. Bjerke was most-recently employed as the elementary school guidance counselor in Volga. The sisters are close in age with each other.
"We're one of three, and we think alike," Osterberg said. "Our mother would even dress us as triplets."
Osterberg and Breuer credit their father for helping them to choose their profession as educators. They remember William McLeod as a teacher and coach in Bryant and Pierpont and later as a superintendent for school districts that included DeSmet and Highmore.
"We could look out the window from wherever we lived in those towns and always see the school," Osterberg said. "He made school important to us."
"The apples don't fall far from the tree," Breuer said.
Their father also influenced their decisions to retire. William McLeod died one year before his planned retirement.
"It's your other life -- the one with your family -- that tells you, `Well you've done this for 20 years or so, and it's time to move on'," Osterberg said.
When asked about what they'll miss the most from their work, Osterberg and Breuer both said it was seeing their students' accomplishments. Osterberg said it was "magical" to see students who couldn't read or write when they started kindergarten master those skills by the next spring.
"It's an amazing journey, and I'll miss it," Osterberg said.
Breuer said her successes helped the students move forward to bigger things.
"Their growth may have been a bit smaller to see, but when you put all of those small accomplishments together, that was the big thing," Breuer said.
Among the parting advice for any new members of the teaching profession, Breuer said some of the greatest satisfaction can come from observing how well children can learn and the difference that a teacher can make.
"My best advice is teaching the students as if they're your own children," Osterberg said.
Osterberg looks forward to spending more time with her adult son and daughter and their families that include a 21-month-old grandson named Corbin. Breuer wants to do the same with her children, but she and her husband Gary have also planned an Alaskan cruise.
Breuer said that one of the things she looks forward to most when the next winter arrives in South Dakota is a vacation to somewhere with a warm climate.
"I'm liking the idea of going to someplace where it's warm and sunny," Breuer said. "It would be nice to sit on the beach and look at the blue, blue water."
©Madison Daily Leader 2013
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