Shaffer says Delano career has 'been an honor'
Posted on: Jun 27, 2018
The primary architect and manager of Delano’s early childhood and family education programs over the past three decades retired this summer.
Early Childhood Programs Coordinator Jane Shaffer served local families from 1987-2018.
“Jane basically has built our programs from the ground up,” said Delano Community Education Director Diane Johnson. “She has been the leader of our early childhood programs for many, many years now, and over that time we’ve watched them grow and evolve and expand.”
Shaffer, a native of Des Moines, Iowa, moved to Minnesota in junior high and graduated from Columbia Heights High School in Fridley before attending the University of Minnesota for a degree in family and consumer science.
In her first years out of college she taught home economics at the junior high level in Kimball and a life skills course for high schoolers, and also was a part-time parent educator in St. Cloud.
“My daughter was about 3 months old when I started working at St. Cloud, so I just worked a couple of evenings a week to have some adult contact and to use my credentials. Then a friend told me about this position in Delano. I thought, ‘I’ll apply and see what happens.’ Here I am, 31 years later,” said Shaffer with a laugh. “I’ve enjoyed it tremendously.”
Three major programs Shaffer managed in Delano included ECFE, school readiness and early childhood health and developmental screening.
While Shaffer’s initial experience came in Kimball and St. Cloud, she found a career home in Delano.
“The people here in Delano were very warm, very welcoming. They are community-oriented,” she said. “If you’re willing to roll up your sleeves and pitch in, they’re more than happy to have you join their efforts to build a great community. So that’s something I’ve really appreciated about working here, just the sense of the community and belonging that people here have. It’s kind of unique, because not every place has that.”
Shaffer’s contributions to the community included developing the preschool program, enrichment classes, the Lunch Bunch program and much more.
“As a parent educator she has helped countless parents learn to grow in their parenting skills over the years,” said Johnson. “She is extremely knowledgeable in the field of early childhood and parent education and is always on top of all of the changes in the field, especially with all of the new early childhood funding streams that have come out from the state in the last few years.”
Shaffer said one of the highlights of her career was seeing the state appropriate money for the school readiness program because it gave preschool access to families who would not otherwise have been able to afford it. The availability of Pathway scholarships also helped.
“I think that’s what I have appreciated the most, a way for every child to have access to a preschool program,” she said.
Another memorable period during her career was the transition of the elementary building to its current on-campus location and Community Education’s move into its current home midway through an academic year.
“It was very, very nice not to have to rent space from other locations in the city and to have our programs under one roof,” Shaffer said. “We spent our winter break, Christmas vacation, here scrubbing bathrooms and classrooms and getting things ready for our winter session to start in this building. That was quite the year. It was fun though.”
Shaffer said her favorite aspects of the job have been the personal connections with children and parents, and the variety that the position entails. She also appreciated the support of Delano’s superintendents and her co-workers.
“It has been a pleasure working with the wonderful staff here,” she said. “We’ve had a lot of fun doing some really important work in the lives of families and children in our school district.”
In retirement Shaffer said she will have more flexibility to visit her adult children and her own parents. A recent move means there are plenty of home projects to be done, and she has planned a trip to France in the fall. Some extra time outside the boundaries of a normal work day is well earned.
“Jane has been very dedicated to meeting the needs of families in our school district,” Johnson said. “We wish her the best in her retirement.”
For Shaffer, the work has been meaningful and fulfilling.
“It’s been an honor to work here and to get to know the families here,” she said.