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Voyageur's Best Features of 2001

Ms. Haadem

Congratulations, Ms. Haadem
Mona Haadem retires after 32 years of teaching at McGregor
April 3, 2001

Monica Haadem is finishing up a long year of teaching in McGregor High School. As she states, "It was 1969, and I thought I'd come here for one year, you know... So here I am finishing my one long year." Thirty-two years later, Mona Haadem is one teacher that students and co-workers hate to see retire. Ask people about her, and you learn that she is a woman who cares, and that is a big part of what makes her such a wonderful teacher. She cares about her students. She cares about her colleagues and work place. She cares about her community. She cares about her family.

She's also a lot of fun. John Bajda began teaching in McGregor the year before her, and he says of Mona, "Students and staff always liked her. She enjoyed people in and out of school; she's just a fun-loving person." As ninth grader Jillian Fredricksen put it, "If you wanted a laugh, she was there."

You would think that Mona's affinity for Social Studies was a life long passion, but she says she actually hated the subject until she was a senior. "It was current events that finally sparked my interest, maybe the Vietnam War." She was able to translate that interest into a memorable learning experience for her students.

McGregor students now recall how much fun learning social studies was in Ms. Haadem's classroom. As you can read from the student writings that follow, her classroom was a special place. Her teaching philosophy is to first make the children feel safe and feel that they are able to voice any opinion. The next step is to instill a work ethic, and finally to develop an appreciation for the subject matter.

Two classroom projects that really stand out in her mind are the "Real People" interviews, where students interviewed foreign exchange students at UMD, and the class of 2000's ninth grade fund-raising efforts for the Grand Forks flood, where students raised $4,000 and pickup loads of supplies for flood victims. Ironically, the students loved it partly "because they viewed it as getting out of work," Mona said with a laugh. "It's Civics class! 'Hel-lo!'"

Over her years of teaching there have been many crises to weather within the system, and those have been challenging for everyone. But she says "It's the classroom and the kids that I enjoyed, that's the fun."

One change she has seen in many of her students is the abundance of activities and after school jobs, which has added to the whining about homework. "It adds up to more opportunities and traveling and seeing more, but good luck finding a movie that holds their attention!"

It has been a year of big changes for Mona. Her mother, whom she faithfully took care of for years, passed away earlier in the year, and there are still matters to take care of back home in North Dakota. She officially retired on March 15, but is waiting for the right time for her retirement party, when more of her family members can attend.

Mona hasn't decided yet what retirement holds for her. The possibilities are endless, but they do not include traveling the country in a big R.V.! If it means the end of having Ms. Haadem in her classroom, there are many who will miss her.

Dedication: The above picture was taken from the 1976 McGregor Pine Log. The senior class dedicated the yearbook to her and had this to say: Miss Haadem has been much more than just a teacher to us. She has brightened our days with her smile, given us encouragement, and has helped us through four years of history. Much of what we are and what we will be in the future, has been influenced just by knowing Ms. Haadem.