Tess LaFrenier joins the Lanesboro Elementary staff as a first and second grade teacher.
Tess LaFrenier joins the Lanesboro Elementary staff as a first and second grade teacher. GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/NEWS LEADER

Tess LaFrenier’s a front-of-the-class rock star.

“When I was a little kid, I wanted to be a rock star or a famous actress, and in some ways, teaching can be like being a rock star — you always have kids saying your name, or they follow you wherever you go. Either way, teaching at least makes me feel like a rock star,” shared Lanesboro Elementary School’s new first and second grade teacher.

She explained that she chose to become a teacher and to teach at the elementary level after she was a peer helper during her senior year of high school in Chatfield.

“I was in a second grade class, and seeing those kids every day was the best part of my day,” she said. “I always had a fun story to tell about what happened while I was peer-helping, and I just really loved helping them grow and learn.”

The teacher LaFrenier had worked with was also “so wonderful,” she said and LaFrenier observed how she also really inspired her students, which in turn inspired LaFrenier to become a teacher.

This is her first year of teaching, but she shared that she has worked in many childcare facilities while attending Winona State.

She graduated from Chatfield High School in 2013 and from Winona State University in Winona in May 2017.

“I decided to come to Lanesboro because it is an amazingly friendly and beautiful community that has access to wonderful resources to help students learn, such as the Commonweal or Eagle Bluff,” LaFrenier said. “I am also familiar with the area, being originally from Chatfield — I participated in the Commonweal Conservatory in 2009 and often came down here for vacations or just fun day trips since I was around five years old. Lanesboro has always been a place I loved coming to visit.”

She’s excited to join the Lanesboro staff and is most looking forward to building positive relationships with all the students, staff and community members in Lanesboro.

She is anticipating getting to see how far students grow in the year they are in her classroom.

“And, just getting to see their bright, ready-to-learn smiles each day. The most important thing I feel children should learn while in school is the ability to work with others and to be able to problem-solve,” LaFrenier added.

The new teacher acknowledged that she will grow during this school year as well.

“The main challenge I foresee is just developing myself as a teacher,” she said. “Since it’s my first year of teaching, I know I have a lot to learn and mistakes to be had. However, I’m thankful that I have such wonderful staff surrounding me who are willing to help and support me where necessary. It should be a great first year!”

LaFrenier noted, “What I most anticipate about being a teacher and working with students is building positive relationships with the students and their families. I also am very excited to make their learning very engaging and relevant to their lives.”

She hopes that when students look back and remember her as their teacher, that they remember that they had a teacher who truly cared about them and their learning.

“I also hope that they learn a growth mindset and to keep trying, even when things get tough,” she added.

LaFrenier recently moved to downtown Lanesboro from Rochester. “My family consists of my boyfriend, John Heim, who I currently live with now in Lanesboro, my mom — who lives in Rochester, and my sister, who lives near Baudette, Minn. My boyfriend currently works in St. Charles, where he grew up. My mom has worked at Folwell Elementary School in Rochester for around 20 years as a cook.”

She said her boyfriend and family helped her set up her room and helped her get things ready for the school year.

“In my spare time, I really enjoy taking long walks on the trails around Lanesboro, acting or singing, and overall, just spending time with friends and family,” she said. “I hope to get involved in some sort of theater activities during the school year. While attending Chatfield Public Schools, I was heavily involved with plays, speech and choir activities. I hope to do the same thing while working in Lanesboro.”

LaFrenier concluded, “I am SO thrilled to begin my teaching career at Lanesboro Public Schools. I already know I never want to leave. It seems like a wonderful place to live and work. Go Burros!”