Recognizing retiring U.P. teachers: Joellyn Kainulainen, Negaunee Public Schools


NEGAUNEE, Mich. (WJMN) – Local 3 News ends its week-long series of highlighting retiring teachers across the U.P. with Joellyn Kainulainen, a first grade teacher at Lakeview Elementary.

“I do enjoy the younger kids,” said Kainulainen. “Especially first grade. They grow so much in that year. They are still so innocent in first grade. They just want to please you and learn as much as they can. They’re like sponges. So that’s been my favorite grade.”

In 1992, Joellyn started her first full-time teaching job as a kindergarten teacher at Pineview Elementary in Palmer.

“Both of my kids went there so I was able to teach my own kids,” said Kainulainen.

Kainulainen moved up to first grade until Pineview closed and then started working at Lakeview where she has taught first grade for the past 18 years.

“My mother was a teacher and ever since I was little, I always wanted to follow in her footsteps,” said Kainulainen. “And then my daughter, my oldest daughter is also a fourth grade teacher at the KI Sawyer school so we kind of have three generations of teachers in our family.”

“Joellyn is an amazing teacher and an amazing colleague to the people here at Lakeview Elementary,” said Julie Peterson, Principal, Lakeview Elementary. “She’s kind, generous and always considering how other people are feeling.”

As for Kainulainen, she says what she’s going to miss from this careers is seeing children everyday.

“You always miss the kids,” said Kainulainen. “You know, their faces light up when they catch on to something, learn something. Or if you’re reading them a silly story and they giggle or laugh or something like that. Also, the excitement on their faces. Science is big for first grade. They love the hands-on and seeing the excitement on their faces. So I think, I think anyone that leaves their teaching career is always going to say the kids are what you’re going to miss the most.”

Kainulainen says she looks forward to slowing down and enjoying the outdoors during her retirement.

“Kayaking, maybe doing some camping again, I do like to walk outside and my older daughter has a pontoon boat that we spend a lot of time on too,” said Kainulainen.

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