In 2015, Mary Fixsen graduated from Redwood Valley High School. At that time she had no idea she would come back in a new role – as a teacher.

Yet, the recent college graduate is willing to admit being in the local school district as a first time educator has been a blessing.

Like other new teachers fresh out of college, Fixsen is dealing with the realities of learning how to do her job in less than ideal health related circumstances.

Fixsen attended the Mankato campus of Minnesota State University where she earned a degree in health education and physical education with a minor in adapted physical education (DAPE).

“For me school was a positive experience,” said Fixsen, adding she had a lot of teachers who had an impact on her life.

Becoming a teacher provided Fixsen with the opportunity to do the same thing for a new generation of students.

When it came to making a decision about what she was going to teach, Fixsen said the choice was easy.

“I have been active my whole life,” she said, adding in high school she was active in sports throughout the school year.

Living a healthy lifestyle has also been a priority for Fixsen, and so being a health education and physical education teacher just made sense.

Although her role in physical education is about the world of sports, Fixsen said being a teacher in that area is not limited to that.

Rather, her focus is on helping students find activities they enjoy and that they can do for the rest of their lives.

Fixsen is teaching health and physical education to students in Grades 5-8, as well as health at the high-school level.

Fixsen wants students in her phy-ed classes to have fun and to develop the skills they need to maintain physical fitness.

In a time when more and more students, and the nation as a whole, is facing obesity issues, Fixsen also wants to guide students as they make healthy life choices.

Fixsen said growing up in the community was something she learned to appreciate, and so she knew as a teacher she wanted to work in a smaller town setting.

So, even though Redwood Falls may not have been on her radar, it certainly fit her vision.

“Being in a familiar place really has been a big help,” said Fixsen, adding as all of the teachers continue to adapt to a new way of teaching, she is finding a group of colleagues who are willing to help her find her way.

Fixsen said because she knew many of the teachers from her time as a student, it was easier to begin the dialogue with them, and those teachers really greeted her with open arms.

Overall, Fixsen said she has appreciated how new teachers are treated in the local district, as she feels very comfortable and is not afraid to ask questions.

“In a small school like this one you are not just a number,” she added.

Interacting with her former teachers in a different way has been interesting, said Fixsen, adding calling them by their first name is something she is still working to embrace.

“It still feels a little weird,” she admitted. 

Fixsen is teaching health in the same room where she was taught that subject by former middle-school teacher Dave Madson, and she admitted it is a bit surreal to be doing that.

Yet, Fixsen added, she is hopeful as an educator to emulate in her own teaching style the things she appreciated about the teachers she had.

While she is not currently teaching the adaptive physical education at this time, Fixsen said she looks forward to the chance in the future to be able to serve those students, helping them find ways that they can be successful as well.

Also in the future Fixsen is hoping to get involved in coaching, as she brings four years of college track experience with her.

With family in the area and connections with others she knew from her past, Fixsen believes that she is in the right place at the right time.