Lori Jeshke

After 34 years in education as a teacher and an administrator, Lori Jeschke is set to retire at the end of July.

Jeschke has been the director of education for the Prairie Spirit School Division for the past four years, but she got her start in education as a classroom teacher.

“I’ve had the pleasure of teaching every single grade, in my career, so that was really fun,” she said.

She was a student-teacher in Perdue and after completing her internship at Prairie View School in Dalmeny, her first full time teaching job was at Laird School in 1987, which was the year she graduated with her degree in education.

Jeschke spent eight years at Laird School before transferring to Hepburn School. When she taught in Hepburn, it was sort of a homecoming for her because that is where she grew up.

She ended up teaching in Hepburn for 12 years, where she had the opportunity to be the vice-principal and principal. While in those roles, she wasn’t teaching in classrooms all day, however, she still got to teach a class or two which she enjoyed.

“Once you become a vice-principal or principal you often don’t necessarily get a specialty area or a classroom,” she said. If there are classes that need to be taught and you’re the one who can make your time-table work, you pick up classes and that’s how I got to teach all different grades.”

After 20 years of teaching in a school setting, Jeschke made the transition in to senior administrative roles. Even though a good chunk of her a career (14 years) had been in the administrative side of education, she really enjoyed her time working in the classroom and that interaction with students.

Her first senior administrative role was the HR principal for the PSSD. She wasn’t in that role for long when she became a coordinator for the schools within the division, with a focus on assessment. Before she became director of education she was the superintendent of schools within the division.

Despite not physically being in the classroom for her senior administrative roles, she always considered herself has a teacher.

“I would like to say that I am still a teacher forever, I’d never stop being a teacher,” she said. “It’s an important thing to remember, and to have all of those pieces within you of what it means to be a classroom teacher is also important.”

Even though she enjoyed her work as an senior administrator she really missed being around students every single day.

“What I missed the absolute most when I made the transition (to the senior administrative roles) was the kids and their energy and all of that,” she said. “But I got to work with adults and so that was a new learning experience.

Despite PSSD becoming a school division in 2006, Jeschke has taught within schools of that division throughout her career with the Sask Valley School Division, which was one of three divisions that amalgamated into PSSD.

Jeschke has seen a lot in three decades of education and the biggest progression she has experienced is the way the students learn, which she thinks is for the better. She said that when she started in education, the teacher was the one that owned all the knowledge and then dispensed that out to the students with no input, but that has changed.

“What I love about what’s happening in education is that the learners are the ones that are doing the work and so the teacher role has really changed and I think transformed to be more of a facilitator of learning and setting up situations creating a classroom where learning can happen in all kinds of different way,” she said.

The students are also more engaged and are doing research themselves to figure out the problem.

She got really emotional when talking about when the right time to retire was because she really believes that the school division is doing it’s best to provide optimal education to all students. She said she didn’t start out the year thinking she would retire but during the school year she felt that it was time.

“I think I had always thought I would stay longer, I’d hoped to stay longer, but sometimes you make the decision for what is right for you right in the moment,” said Jeschke.

She mentioned that providing learning opportunities to students, whether it was on line or in-school during the pandemic has been a unique challenge and one of the most difficult things to navigate in her whole career.

“I think the challenge was to provide all the support, care and compassion we could for all of those interruptions but to keep the focus on learning. And that’s not work you do alone, you do it with a really good team,” she said.

Overall, Jeschke enjoyed her time as an educator, but she is also excited for the next chapter of her life.