May 15, 2013
Delores Vondrak, 77, is retiring after 55 years as an educator in the Elk Point-Jefferson (S.D.) school district. Photo by Tim Gallagher
Briar Cliff alum retires after 55 years teaching
ELK POINT, S.D. — When the bell sounded on the last day of school in May, a 55-year run in the classroom ended for Delores Vondrak.
Since graduating from Briar Cliff College in 1958, Delores, 77, taught and served in various roles in the Elk Point-Jefferson School District – the only workplace she had known.
“When you have enjoyable kids and you like what you're doing, it doesn't seem like it's that long.”
— Delores Vondrak, '58, retired teacher
The daughter of Sioux City farmers Lawrence and Cecilia Vondrak, Delores signed on for $4,000 her rookie year with the then Elk Point School District. While that beginning salary seems paltry today, Delores said a semester of tuition at Briar Cliff back then cost $125. She and her mother paid her way through college by selling eggs off the farm to Briar Cliff.
Delores taught home economics for 27 years before landing a position in the special education department, where she remained until her retirement this year. She also was a crossing guard, reporting to school at 7:30 a.m. daily. “I’m looking forward to sleeping more some mornings,” she said of her retirement wish list.
Delores also plans to travel and volunteer. Although she didn’t raise children of her own, she had a hand in the upbringing of thousands of children around Elk Point and Jefferson.
When you have enjoyable kids and you like what you’re doing, it doesn’t seem like it’s that long,” she said. “I’ll miss it greatly. I’ll still come back for games and activities. You can’t walk away from a place that’s been part of you.”
Reprinted with permission from Tim Gallagher and the Sioux City Journal