3 saying goodbye to schools

Sam Woitalewicz

Sam Woitalewicz is one busy man. Aside from teaching fifth- and sixth-grade social studies at Tracy Area Elementary School, he continues to go to school, and up until he was hired as a principal at Westbrook-Walnut Grove, he worked overnights at a group home near Marshall for nine years.

“It’s tough,” Woitalewicz said of his schedule. “My wife (Sheri) and I keep talking about how we’ve been in school since we were married. She graduated with two degrees from SMSU and is considering going back for more. It’s difficult. Hopefully it starts slowing down a little bit so we can have a family.”

Woitalewicz — or Mr. W as he is lovingly referred to as at TAES — is wrapping up his time in Tracy. After six years, Friday will be his last day there.

He said he has loved his time in Tracy and will miss working with the kids and teaching them.

Deb Miller

Deb Miller doesn’t have a parent, child or grandchild nearby, yet she is constantly surrounded by family.

Miller, Tracy Area Elementary School’s talented and affable librarian, has spent 25 years building and nurturing relationships in Tracy and the surrounding area, and when she talks about her time here — in the school system, in the church, and in the community — the word “family” keeps coming up.

“I have quite a few Tracy families,” she says with a grin. “There’s no other word that fits these friends of many years, who have been with me through some of the hardest times in my life — encouraging me, crying with me, helping me get through just one more day when I didn’t think I could.”

In a matter of days, Miller’s time in Tracy will come to an end, as she and her husband, Edsel, will be moving to her childhood home of Colorado Springs, CO. The void she leaves behind will be as vast as the one she will likely feel developing in her heart as the couple pulls out of town on June 4 — 25 years to the day since they arrived in Tracy.

Lauri Fox

Long an admirer of history and literature, it wasn’t until Lauri Fox was in college that she realized how much she loves libraries.

Fox, originally from Luverne, received her degree in secondary education at Southwest State University (now Southwest Minnesota State University) in 1976 and while at SSU, she worked in the college library.

“I just loved working there,” said Fox, who is retiring as Tracy Area School Media Specialist after two decades of serving in the school district. “I loved being in the library. That’s when I decided that’s what I wanted to get into.”

Lauri and her husband, Jim, ended up moving around a quite a bit after living in Marshall in the early 1980s. They moved to Nebraska, then to Iowa, which is where Lauri got into the public school system by working at both the middle school and high school in Storm Lake.

See this week’s Headlight-Herald for more on these articles.