Although she started her teaching career later than most, Hillside Elementary fifth grade teacher Elizabeth Erickson doesn't regret going into teaching.

"I've enjoyed just about everything about my time as a teacher. I decided to teach elementary because I like that age level. The kids are great and I work with a lot of really good people. They give you a lot of good opportunities to do good things," Erickson said. "Mr. Wojan (a previous principal) let me turn the whole school into Hogwarts for a whole week when we did Harry Potter. Then we would turn our classroom into a birchbark house when we would learn about the Ojibwe when we taught Wisconsin history."

When Erickson retires at the end of the school year, she will have taught for 21 years in the New Richmond School District. She started her career in the district as a Title 1 teacher before moving on to teach fourth grade at Paperjack Elementary. She then made the transition to teaching fifth grade at Hillside.

"Even though I'm a late bloomer when it comes to being a teacher, I've always taught something, even in my previous jobs before becoming a teacher," Erickson said. "I did a lot of community education stuff and I was a CCD teacher as well. Being the oldest of 13, you are always teaching someone something."

Erickson started her college career at the University of Wisconsin - Stout before finishing both her Bachelor's and Master's degrees at UW-River Falls.

"There are all kinds of things you think and remember from your career. I tried to do unique things with the kids, like each Christmas we'd do 'Scrooge' as a play, then I'd do Shakespeare in the spring with them. I liked being able to give them those extra experiences," Erickson said. "I'll miss the kids and the people I work with the most. I won't miss the testing."

After the school year ends, Erickson said she won't be any less busy as she will shift her focus to her many hobbies, including photography and the theater.

"I plan to do some traveling and spend time with family once I retire. I have lots of hobbies so I'll be busy. I'm also getting more involved with the theater, specifically the Spring Valley community theater. I'll also be involved at our church. There is always something to do to keep me busy," Erickson said.