Friends and Neighbors: Ready to retire -- reluctantly
For 36 years -- more than half his life -- Frederick Floan has been teaching students at Rossman Elementary School in Detroit Lakes, day in and day out, September through May.
This Thursday, May 24, will be his last day in the classroom -- as a full-time instructor, at least.
Floan, a third-generation Detroit Lakes native, is retiring after a teaching and coaching career that spanned three and a half decades, and included more than 950 students and an untold number of young athletes.
During his career, Floan has taught fourth grade (12 years), sixth grade (14 years), and most recently, fifth grade (10 years).He has also coached squirt hockey (grades 2-4) for "a number of years," Pirates' Little League baseball (grades 4-7) for 15 years, and elementary gymnastics (grades 3-6) for over 20 years.
Though he drifted away from coaching, Floan says, he really enjoyed the experience.
"I loved coaching Little League," he says, adding what he didn't love was being "tied down for most of the summer."
He also enjoyed coaching elementary gymnastics at Rossman, in conjunction with John Erickson (who retired as DL Middle School assistant principal a couple of years ago).
"We did it on a volunteer basis for most of that time," adds Floan.
As for teaching, his enthusiasm has never waned. "I never really thought of it as a job," he says. "It's just something I liked to do -- it's never appeared as drudgery to me. I've only taken four and a half sick days in 36 years. I can't imagine doing anything else.
"I know I'm going to miss it," Floan admits. "I couldn't have chosen a better profession. I've so thoroughly enjoyed working and interacting with the children -- that's the part I'm going to miss most.
"It's been a really rewarding career. There's not a day that goes by that you don't see something new happening... at that age (grades 4-6), they're independent enough to work on their own, but still need some direction."
While he won't miss the paperwork or increased number of state instructional mandates imposed since the beginning of his tenure, Floan says, "No matter what they (the state) do, they can't change the fact that it's so rewarding, working with kids on a daily basis."
Floan says it's going to be "a difficult thing" when classes resume this fall, and he doesn't have to report to work that first morning.
"I was eligible to retire two years ago, and I thought about it last year, but I wasn't ready," he says. "This year, I decided the time was right. At some point, you just have to make a decision that it's time to go."
But he shouldn't have any trouble keeping busy. Floan has many hobbies, from nature photography to traveling to researching local history to restoring and reconditioning vintage cars.
"Maybe now that I have a little more time, I'll get some of those projects done that have been sitting there unfinished for so long," he said. "I've done lots of research on local history -- that's something I've always been interested in."
With three generations of his family having been born and raised in the Detroit Lakes community, Floan says, just researching his family's history has provided a wealth of information that he'd like to get written down somewhere.
"My grandmother (Wilhel-mina Weiss) and my mother (Lois Weiss Floan) were both born and raised in Detroit Lakes, and my grandfather was born here too. My grandmother graduated (from DLHS) in 1908, my mother graduated in 1934, and I graduated in 1966," he says. "My grandmother also taught at Detroit Lakes schools. She was a history and civics teacher in the early 1920s.
"My dad (Ray Floan) was the president of the school board when Rossman was built," he adds. "I attended the first full-year kindergarten class at Rossman... one way and another, I've been connected with Rossman just about my whole life.
"I've served under four different principals -- Harlan Wallum, Chuck Edwards, Roger Lee and Sandy Nelson. They've all been really good to work with -- the administrative staff has been very supportive.
"I have very strong roots and connections here (at Rossman), for many reasons. I'll miss the interaction with the staff, and all the wonderful people I've had a chance to work with... but somehow, a person just seems to know when it's time."
Floan says he's "really looking forward" to retirement, and the opportunity to "come and go as you please. I just want to see what that feels like."