Jerry Neubauer didn’t dream of becoming an administrator, only that he wanted to make a career out of coaching athletics.

Jerry Neubauer didn’t dream of becoming an administrator, only that he wanted to make a career out of coaching athletics.


When he graduated from Bird Island High School he realized that to become a coach he would have to go into education.


Jerry and his wife, Julie, also a teacher at St. Mary’s Catholic School in Sleepy Eye, were married in 1973 in Bird Island and decided to build a life for themselves outside of the influences of their hometown. They landed jobs at St. Mary’s School in Devil’s Lake, N.D. where they said the foundation for their careers was built.

“They didn’t have a lot as far as materials so we had to be teachers from the ground up and that was a great teaching experience,” Julie said.


For five years Julie served the Devils Lake Catholic school system as a teacher and Jerry as the athletic director. They went on the search for another school system after the Devil’s Lake high school had a fire and was closed. Both interviewed for positions at New Ulm Cathedral and both received offers. In the meantime, Jerry had interviewed for the position of administrator at St. Mary’s School in Sleepy Eye. In the end, Julie and Jerry were both offered contracts at St. Mary’s and as they say, the rest is history.


“The people of Sleepy Eye have been very good and Julie and I have no regrets,” Jerry noted. “Looking back at our time here in Sleepy Eye this is the time to tell everyone what a wonderful feeling we have when we hear someone speak about St. Mary’s Catholic School. We sincerely appreciate the opportunity to “belong” here.”

For Julie, teaching was something she had always dreamed of and she loved it until the very end.


“Teaching continued to be a passion for me right up to the end,” she said. “So many times I would hear about teachers burning out and I never wanted to get to that point. I wanted to bring energy and passion into the classroom and I think I did. It was never about us–it is about the hundreds of kids that we hopefully touched in some small way and the joy we feel from being a part of it.”


Julie and Jerry said originally their plan was to stay in Sleepy Eye for three years and then Jerry would earn his Master’s degree and they would find a big glorious job in a big school and make lots of money. More than 35 years later, they said the time has finally come for them to “turn the page.”


“There is no way I can “sit” with nothing to do, but I need something different,” Jerry added.


While they don’t have plans laid in concrete about how their retirement will look, they do have several short-term goals.


One is to sell their home in Sleepy Eye and move to their lake home 20 minutes from their family and where they grew up near Bird Island. Julie plans to jump out of a plane over Hutchinson Aug. 2. But as far as what the future holds, they said they are leaving it to chance and minimal planning for the first time in their lives.


“I think it will be an adjustment for me to go from having a busy schedule with responsibilities to not having anything on my list,” Jerry explained. “I will miss having the kids around and I’ll miss the staff and the good people we had to work with.” Jerry’s last official day is June 15.


Julie’s last official day was May 28 and she said what she will miss the most is the kids, the classroom and the staff she has worked with for the past 35 years.

Due to declining enrollment, a new teacher will not be hired to replace Julie. Instead, Nick Mayhew will teach British Literature, Rachel Windschitl will teach World History and Angie Novotny will teach ninth grade English. As for a director for the musicals, Jerry said they have someone in mind.


Andrew Bach, the social studies teacher for the past three years, will take over administrative duties beginning the 2014-15 school year.