LINGLE – Lingle-Fort Laramie teacher Erin Jespersen is celebrating her 20th year of service with the L-FL School District.
Jespersen serves L-FL schools as a music teacher and the school district as their head musical director. She also serves as the assistant state drama director and as a co-director with Christine Quillen of the extracurricular drama program for Torrington .
Jespersen was one of the founders and is currently serving her third year as president for the Goshen Community Theater. She was in the Eastern Wyoming College production of Hello Dolly. A group of cast members, including Jespersen, came together and decided to establish the Goshen Community Theater.
Jespersen and her husband, Mark, have been involved with community bands and community theater for the greater part of their lives together. They are members of a group called ‘Jazz 6-8’ and have also participated with the ‘Sugar Valley Singers’ out of Scottsbluff.
A major facet of their lives is Freemasonry. Jespersen is a Job’s Daughter and past Grand Guardian, or head of the state. Her husband Mark is also involved as a Freemason. Their daughters, Avey and Nora, are also Job’s Daughters. Avey is currently representing the state of Wyoming as Junior Miss Wyoming’s Job’s Daughter and was previously honored to be the Honored Queen.
“It’s kind of a family thing,” said Jespersen of her family’s involvement with Masonry. Jespersen is on the council for Job’s Daughters. “I grew up in a very Masonic family and giving back to the community, the things that they do, has been a major part of my life. (It’s) really what has shaped me as a person and wanting to help different people in different ways. Those organizations are dying out a little bit, which is too bad, but they’re not here in Goshen County.”
Jespersen and her husband work diligently to keep the local Masonic organizations running smoothly and retaining members. Jespersen expressed her sincere gratitude towards the Masonic organizations that have principally shaped her life. Jespersen credits Job’s Daughters with having helped to shape her daughters.
“Job’s Daughters helps girls become confident and it helps with public speaking. We run our meetings using parliamentary procedure, we say the pledge at every meeting. It is great for the girls. It did so much for me, and it is great for the girls growing up,” said Jespersen.
Going back to the beginning, Jespersen grew up in Rawlins. After graduating from high school, in 1995, she was selected as Miss International Job’s Daughter. This honor is bestowed upon the Job’s Daughter who exudes exceptional leadership skills, speaking skills and teamwork.
“Instead of going to college right away, I got to travel. I got to go to 38 states, four providences in Canada, Australia, Brazil and the Philippine islands. It was pretty amazing,” said Jespersen.
According to jobsdaughtersinternational.org: “Miss International Job’s Daughter is chosen each year at a pageant held during Supreme Session. Contestants representing their home jurisdictions come from all over the world to compete. There are various competitions that each contestant undergoes, and the winner will then represent Job’s Daughters International for the coming year.”
After touring with Job’s Daughters, Jespersen attended the University of Wyoming, where she earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees, with honors, in music education. She also completed a coaching endorsement, with honors, so that she could coach swimming, as she had swum competitively when she was in high school. After college, she completed student teaching in Cheyenne at three different schools.
“I had several job interviews all over the state, in Nebraska and Colorado. I came here (Lingle).”
When she came to Lingle, she was warned by the past principal, she would have to keep numbers up in the band and choir or the music program would be cut.
“It was kind of scary,” added Jespersen.
Her first year, Jespersen had 18 kids in choir and seven kids in the band. The program has continued to expand. Jespersen added a second band in 2004 called the ‘Lingle-Fort Laramie Jazz Tones.’ Students interested in joining the ‘Jazz Tones’ are required to audition, adding an element of challenge to that ensemble.
“For the first time in 20 years, my band is huge,” exclaimed Jespersen. Jespersen oversees and conducts for the sixth grade, seventh/eighth grade and L-FL high school bands. Students are introduced to the instruments and have an opportunity to try out the different options. They are then able to pick and choose which instruments they will pursue.
Jespersen remains optimistic of her job as a teacher.
“It’s a challenging job, but I am never bored, and I get to see the kids grow up from age five to age 18,” she said Through the ups and downs of the job, the kids are still here. It does not matter how big or small the school is, you try to make a difference in those kids’ lives.”
“You never know which kid needs a fantastic math teacher or which kid needs the music room for their haven. I live for those moments. They can be few and far between, but when a kid comes to you and says you or music are the reason they kept coming to school, that’s what it is all about.”