Donna Swenson is a St. Paul native, but fell in love with the Pine River area thanks to a family cabin on Lake Ada.
“My family has had a cabin on Lake Ada since 1960 and we’ve loved the area ever since, so that’s why I’m here,” Swenson said.
It’s because of her fond memories of the north woods that Swenson and her husband bought their own lakefront property on Rainy Lake in 2004. Before that, Swenson had been helping her husband to farm and raise kids in North Dakota for 22 years.
After moving onto their property on Rainy Lake, Swenson became a paraprofessional with Pine River-Backus Elementary School. It is a position she has held ever since, but last fall it was time to quit.
“It was just that time. I said I would work until I was 62 and that’s what I did,” Swenson said.
Swenson worked mostly to help kids with reading literacy. She remembers fun times interacting with the kids on the school playground and getting to know the teachers she worked with.
“I’ve really enjoyed it. The kids were great. The teachers were wonderful. If they told you to do something, they gave you the instructions to get the job done,” Swenson said.
Swenson’s favorite memory from her job is of a young student.
“There was one young lady who helped me my first year. I was in the first grade with her, and I had a one on one and she just helped me with the problems I was having at that time,” Swenson said.
Swenson was a paraprofessional with Pine River-Backus Elementary School since 2005. She retired Oct. 31, 2012, and June 6 marks the end of the last school year she worked here.