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Published April 09 2010

A class act honored in Harwood

Harwood, N.D. - The list of things first-grade teacher Jean Melicher plans to do when she retires next year has grown to three or four pages.

But while she’s been preparing to wrap up a 22-year career in West Fargo, she wasn’t expecting any special recognition.

“What a shock; what an honor,” said the Harwood Elementary School teacher. “I’m just humbled, very humbled.”

Tearing up, Melicher accepted the West Fargo School District’s 2010-11 Teacher of the Year award Friday to the erupting cheers of the school’s 117 students.

Family was even flown in for the special event, which included friends, former colleagues and staff.

“It will be hard to see her go,” said fifth-grade teacher Tami Rudolph, who’s spent her entire career working with Melicher. “She’s fabulous.”

She and other colleagues described Melicher as energetic and tirelessly enthusiastic about her job even after

22 years – 19 of those at Harwood Elementary.

The most rewarding part of her job as the school’s lone first-grade teacher: teaching children to read, she said.

“Those little kids are eager to learn,” she said, adding that she tears up when one of her students grasps how to read. “I wish I had 20 more years in me.”

But instead, the 59-year-old will leave Harwood and her “second family” next year for retirement.

While her list of things to do, such as spending time with family or playing solitaire, is likely to continue to grow, Melicher said it’ll still be difficult to end her career.

“This has been her home,” her husband, Kevin, said. “She cares a lot about what she does. We’ve very proud of her.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Kelly Smith at (701) 241-5515