By Jeani Trosvig
LeAnne Jaenisch’s long-term goal “happened faster than expected.”
Growing up in Fergus Falls, LeAnne Jaenisch had visions of becoming an English teacher. “I read all the Bronte books unabridged in ninth grade . . . for fun.” Obviously this girl was book smart, but well-rounded, taking music, art, band and orchestra; French horn and violin. She was also a bit of a tom-boy, playing girls hockey all the way through until she was 16, there was no high school girls hockey offered back in the ‘90s but her team did make nationals three times. “I knew I would enjoy teaching,” LeAnne recalls, her dad, Gary Jaenisch (brother to the locally-renowned artist Steve Jaenisch), was a welder for Dairy Farmers of America, but “he was always teaching me, explaining things.” Pam Jaenisch, LeAnne’s mom, has been a daycare provider for the past 30 years and LeAnne, living on the same block as her parents, still occasionally fills in when she has a free day, “I love kids, always have.” LeAnne comes by that honestly; she shared her home as a child with over 500 foster children during the 6-1/2 years her parents graciously opened their home and acted as foster parents. There are several that she considers her brothers and sisters, “you don’t pick them … they pick you.”
After high school, LeAnne attended the Fergus Falls CC for two years, studying music and theater, working both on stage and behind it. At that same time she began volunteering at Center for the Arts, working under Rich Baker, who “taught me a ton of stuff.” She so enjoyed that work that she found herself volunteering nearly 30 hours each week, even accepting a position on the Center’s Board of Directors…sounds like LeAnne thrives on being busy! She felt compelled to give back even more and found herself coaching Pee Wee and high school hockey while running her own video production company at the age of 20, Video Production Plus. LeAnne was eventually offered a job at Center for the Arts when she stepped in for the absent Technical Director of “West Side Story”. For the next five years, LeAnne worked as the facilities manager, which she loved, especially being in charge of the film program that the Center offered along with working with some amazing artists, many of whom she still keeps in touch with today.
After five years of working long hours, and missing many family events and gatherings, LeAnne knew it was time for a change. She went back to her old alma mater … as one of the Fergus Falls High School custodians and took over the technical aspects of the auditorium. She loved it, she was making a living-wage, getting benefits and vacation and working a set-schedule. While enjoying her time working, she also knew it was going to be short-term, at the age of 29, LeAnne realized that it was time to go back to school. That school was going to be North Dakota State College of Science.
After touring the campus, it took LeAnne only minutes to realize she wanted to go into Electrical Technology; it SO related to what she had been involved in at the C4TA! She soon found herself in a two-year program surrounded by 19 year-old boys and recalls that “it took the instructor about three weeks to figure me out.” She listened, had a great memory and lots of hands-on-experience. She strongly encourages the younger female population to visit the campus, “the trades are wide open for women!”
LeAnne’s first job after graduation was for Scott’s Electric and she found herself back at Kennedy, now instead of sweeping floors she was wiring the building. She was eventually approached by Red River Electric and took an apprenticeship with them, in addition to the two year program she’d completed at NDSCS, she would need 2,000 hours of experience a year over three years before she could take a test to become a journeyman electrician and had heard that it was a brutal test. She passed with flying colors. She was content and enjoying her work, looking forward to running the Fergus office in the near future. But she still had visions of teaching and teaching at NDSCS was her long-term goal.
Her long-term goal “happened way faster than I expected” when she came across an ad for an Electrical Technology Instructor at NDSCS in July of 2014. She applied and once again found herself on a college campus surrounded by 19-year-old boys, only this time she was their instructor. As she visited during spring break, she says her first year has been interesting and she admits that many of her students did not “hold back” on their evaluations of her teaching that first semester. They have come to respect and even admire her. “This can be a dangerous job, I want them to be prepared.”
LeAnne looks forward to her first summer off in many years … well, not totally “off” as she will work toward her teaching certificate for North Dakota while at the same time working toward her electrician masters license. Oh, and she plans to remodel her bathroom and kitchen …with her dad alongside her for help. Yep, this lady doesn’t sit idle very often.
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