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Teacher passes torch to former student
MONROE - A former Northside student will be stepping up to the head of the class as she takes over for her fifth-grade teacher, who is retiring after more than four decades on the job.

Randy Ninmer, who has taught at Northside Elementary School for 43 years, will retire in June at age 65. Former student Katie Coplien, who got her teaching assistant experience at Parkside Elementary, is set to take over his classroom in the fall.

Ninmer said he remembered Coplien: After all, he had taught both of her parents and her siblings.

"She was always a really nice girl," Ninmer said.

Ninmer began his teaching career at Northside with a fourth-grade class. A year later, he moved up with the same students once a fifth-grade teacher retired. Throughout his tenure at Northside, he has led lessons ranging from spelling to science to the introduction of American history.

"I've never really regretted going to work," Ninmer said. "I always enjoy being with kids. I like seeing them grow up. They realize they don't know everything yet so they're always willing to learn."

For Ninmer, retirement represents a large amount of free time to relax and take care of the house while his wife, Carol, continues to work. He hopes to continue writing a book he began, a work of historical fiction based in the Galena area.

Now in the same place in his life, Ninmer said he believes the job of invigorating young minds being passed down to Coplien is well-deserved.

"She knows Monroe, she knows Northside, and she knows the traditions we have," Ninmer said. "I think the kids will enjoy her as a teacher."