Virginia (Dee) Kuisle’s 40-year teaching career began in September 1946 in a 1-room schoolhouse in rural Olmstead County, Minnesota and extended through modern elementary classrooms until her retirement from Byron Elementary in May 1986. Through the years, Virginia had maintained her enthusiasm and commitments to student creativity, discovery and mastery of key skills.
Virginia, the oldest daughter of Mary and Stanley Dee, was born in 1927 and completed Grades 1-8 in the Dee school, founded by her pioneer ancestors, on County Road 8. She graduated from Lourdes High School in Rochester in May 1945.
After one year of teacher training at Winona State Teachers College–on a Limited Energy Permit-because of the shortage of teachers caused by World War II–Virginia was hired as a teacher in the Dee School in the fall of 1946. Two of her students were her brother: Stanley Jr. in 6th grade and Raymond in 4th grade. Virginia earned $175 a month; lived at home; and paid one of her students a fee to build a fire in the school’s stove in the mornings.
In 1952, Virginia married Ralph Kuisle. They had five children–Rosemary, Beverly, Don, Dale, and Debbie–while Ralph farmed and Virginia continued to teach school. She earned her college degree and lifetime teaching certificate in 1968; after years of attending night and summer school classes. Virginia credited her family for their support in helping her achieve this goal.
Beginning in 1963, Virginia taught for 23 years in the Byron School System: 13 years as a First Grade Teacher; 3 years in fourth grand and 7 years as a Title One teacher. Virginia’s favorite saying was a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson which sat on her desk throughout her years in Byron: “Nothing great was every achieved without enthusiasm.” Virginia was presented with a silver plaque of appreciation from the Board of Education on May 30, 1986 when she retired and she remains a lifetime member of the National Education Association.
Virginia’s influence in Minnesota education continues to be demonstrated in the teaching careers of her grandchildren: Kelly in Rochester; Ryan in Mankato; and Laura in Albert Lea, Minesota. During the summer of 2014, Virginia continued to make teaching aids for her great granddaughter, Almira, who was preparing to enter the first grade.