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After nearly 40 years of service, Olsen set to retire

Alice Olsen displays some class pictures of some of the over 1,000 preschool students she has taught over the years since 1975 when she first became involved with Head Start in the area.

Sun Advocate reporter

After 37 years of teaching the ABCs, cutting and tracing paper and helping play an integral role in the lives of preschoolers, Alice Olsen is ready to step aside and retire.

"I've been at this job for quite awhile," Olsen said with a laugh. "I've loved every minute of it. The kids are amazing and I just love being around them."

Olsen, 72, has had Miss Alice's Preschool, 450 South and 400 East in Price, since the fall of 1991. Her roots in helping teach preschoolers started back in 1976 when she first began teaching with Head Start and later with Notre Dame.

In 1991, Olsen opened the preschool. Along with help from Judi Schade, who has worked with Olsen for years and was there when Miss Alice's opened, the school has run smoothly ever since.

"There is a lot of preparation that goes into this kind of job," Olsen said. "Without Judi, I couldn't have done this,"

Inside the trailer which houses the school, photos from current and past graduates provide a reminder of the many preschoolers who have come through the doors. Olsen herself has kept a binder with photos of every class she has ever taught dating back to the 1970s. She estimates that she has taught well over 1,000 students since beginning her career.

"I've taught students who have went on to become lawyers, police officers and doctors," said Olsen. "It's neat to watch what they become later on in life."

Olsen said she is turning over the school to Kim Ragsdale, who has worked with her for the past few years. Ragsdale was a former student of Olsen when she attended the preschool.

A deep love for her job working with kids won't keep Olsen away forever.

While she is retiring, Olsen said she will still help out when she can. And it won't be a hard task for her. Olsen's home is located right next to the school providing her with ample opportunities to help out whenever there is a need.

"I can't just sit around," Olsen said of retiring. "I'm slowing down just a bit. But I'll find plenty of things to keep me busy including helping out with the school."

In her free time Olsen has kept herself very busy. She regularly helps out at Party Express and has helped with community events including the Trail's End Easter Egg hunt by filling 9,000 eggs with candy and other treats as well as the No Graves Unadorned project where she has made around 3,000 flowers to be placed on graves before Memorial Day.

Olsen has 16 grandchildren and 31 great-great-grandchildren with a 32nd on the way in July.

Olsen's final week is expected to be a busy one. On Tuesday, May 13, students will hold a performance of Mother Gooseland at the Tuscan at 6 p.m. Her final day at the school will be on Wednesday.

A picnic is scheduled for Thursday, May 15 at the Dino Mine Park from 9 to 10:30 a.m. A farewell party for Olsen will be held on Friday, May 16 at Washington Park from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

It's a busy final week for Olsen but she expects no different.

"This job has been a lot of work for me but I've loved all of it," she said.

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