Paraprofessional began at NYM School in 1987

Photo by Tucker Henderson
New York Mills School paraprofessional Julie Witt is retiring from the school district after 37 years.

By Tucker Henderson


After 37 years as a paraprofessional at the New York Mills Elementary School, Julie Witt will be taking her well-earned retirement. She was hired in September of 1987 by the then principal Mike Hart. 

Since then, she has worked mainly as a paraprofessional and also filled in when needed in other roles. She has enjoyed her career working with kids over the years.

“Watching the kids grow and all the excitement that they bring,” smiled Witt. “That, I think has been one of the most rewarding things. Then those ‘aha’ moments and just having the relationships with the teachers as well as the students. Actually, the whole school system, you get used to the janitorial, kitchen, all of that.”

Witt said she has had a lot of great highlights over the years, with both ups and downs. She said that one of the more recent changes in the life of a school paraprofessional came after the COVID-19 pandemic turned education upon its head. She said she’s grateful that the school staff was able to support each other during that period, as well as every day.

“The whole building,” she said. “They’re just such a caring community at the school. Through the good and the bad times, we celebrate the good times and we help when the bad things happen, that is one thing that I will really miss, the camaraderie.”

The school’s welcoming atmosphere is a common thread in Witt’s memory of her tenure in the NY Mills school. She emphasized the relationships both between the staff members and the students, as well as the working atmosphere between staff members.

In her retirement, Witt plans on enjoying the little things in life, starting by getting rid of her morning alarm.

“My first day, I just want to not set the alarm,” she laughed. “And just take what comes to me. I’m very excited about not having a schedule or having to be someplace. We’re planning a trip later in the summer with our daughter and son-in-law and granddaughter, but we’re just going to take it easy.

“Neither of us are big travelers,” said Witt of her and her husband Doug. “I’m not saying we won’t, but I don’t foresee us going down south for six months or anything like that. Just doing a lot more volunteering and staying active that way. And probably gardening, my flower garden are my favorite, so getting to spend more time in there when I don’t have to, you know, I can do it before the weekend,” she laughed.

One of the volunteering projects that Witt is involved in is the care of the Relay for Life flowers spread out across New York Mills. She and her husband have been taking care of them for the past few years along with help from Jerry Nesland.

“We take care of the watering uptown and at Lunds, the Post Office, and the bank as well,” she said. “We always have a thing going with Jerry, our flowers are in the sun and his are mostly in the shade, so his do better, so we always say he’s switching them. He says no, he isn’t.”

Along with Witt’s first day of retirement will come some bittersweet elements. She will miss the atmosphere at the school, but also looks forward to her open schedule.

“It’s been very caring, just like a family,” she said of the school. “I will miss that part of it. As far as getting up to the alarm, no I’m not going to miss that. Somebody said, ‘you’re going to be bored,’ I said, ‘I really want to take the chance to be bored for once.’”