After 20 years as a Laker, Kristin Johnson is set to retire

Johnson plans for oversea adventures with her family, and will still keep busy with two other jobs.

After 20 years of working in the Detroit Lakes School District, Kristin Johnson is retiring at the end of the school year.
Barbie Porter / Detroit Lakes Tribune

DETROIT LAKES — Kristin Johnson is ready for gondola rides in Italy, castle tours in Austria and hiking the West Highland Trail in Scotland with her husband Kent.

“I think I will love retirement life,” Johnson said, noting after 20 years of working in the Detroit Lakes School District in various positions, she will bid adieu at the end of the school year.

The Jamestown, North Dakota, native’s journey to Laker Country began with a move to Fargo, North Dakota. While working at a hospital as a respiratory therapist, she met a pharmacist and fell in love 43 years ago.

“We both have a bit of wanderlust in our blood,” Johnson said. “After we married we promptly moved to the San Francisco Bay area — without jobs.”

The two had degrees though, and quickly found work. After five years under the California sun, they agreed to start a family and raise them with a Minnesota nice mentality. They initially called the Twin Cities home, but a job opportunity brought them to Detroit Lakes.


“Way back when Target was only in the metro, my husband switched from hospital pharmacy to retail pharmacy,” Johnson said, noting her husband works for Target.

When Target expanded, Johnson said her husband was presented with the opportunity to open a pharmacy in any Target store in the state.

“He chose Moorhead,” she said. “We looked at houses there, but my sister taught at Rossman Elementary, at the time.”

Detroit Lakes became a front-runner after hearing rave reviews about the Detroit Lakes School District. After moving to the community, Johnson also became a Laker. Her first job was as a health assistant, before shifting to secretarial duties for the counseling office, and then as the principal’s assistant, all at the middle school.

“I like change,” she said. “It’s refreshing.”

When a position as an administrative assistant at the counseling office opened at the high school about six years ago, Johnson applied and was hired.

“One of the best things, for me personally, in coming to high school, was that I knew the kids from when they were in middle school,” Johnson said. "I embarrassed myself by saying, ‘Oh my, you’ve grown up, or, you’re so tall.’ And I thought, do I sound like their grandma?”

Reconnecting with familiar faces was fun, as well as meeting the other up-and-coming Laker classes. Aside from the students, Johnson said her colleagues have also made her time working for the school district a joy.


The mother of three and grandmother of five said even after retiring from the school district, she will still have two jobs.

“I’m an independent stylist with a brand out of California, helping women find their own unique style/creating a wardrobe they love for the past 10 years,” she explained, adding she will also be an independent contractor for a cat-sitting business in the Fargo-Moorhead area.

Johnson said her husband will also continue working as a part-time traveling pharmacist. With a little more time available, the two planned a trip overseas next fall with a daughter, son-in-law and their two children.

After the overseas adventure, Johnson will use the knowledge from years of running marathons to focus on preparing for the 100-mile hike of the Highland Trail.

Johnson said the hike has been a bucket-list item for her, and her husband, for many years.

As retirement nears, it appears Johnson is ready to start living the retirement life with the same dedication and purpose that she gave to the Detroit Lakes School District for so many years.

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