Ragatz leaves after 36 years


Ms. Ragatz retires after teaching for 36 years Audrey Simon

Audrey Simon

Ms. Rose Ragatz has taught in OHS’s special education department for the past 36 years. For almost four decades, Ms. Ragatz has helped students with unique needs learn social skills and life skills.  She has also helped with the Special Olympics programs in Owatonna. Ms. Ragatz attended the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities for two years, following it up with two years at St. Cloud State, earning her a special education degree.

Ms. Ragatz grew up in Crystal, MN just outside of the Twin Cities, and attended Armstrong High School. Ms. Ragatz said, “My first experience with kids with unique needs was in high school, and so I decided to see what special education was all about.” Ms. Ragatz started at Owatonna, planning to only stay for one year as a long-term substitute. She liked Owatonna because it was only an hour away from where she grew up. After that teacher left, she was asked to stay.

At Owatonna, Ms. Ragatz has taught many courses including, life skills, functional academics, social skills and communication skills. Ms. Ragatz said, “The courses are very individualized to fit the student and their needs.” In some cases, they have taught Ms. Ragatz, she said, “The biggest thing I have learned throughout the years is that everybody can learn. You just have to figure out a way to make it happen.” Ms. Ragatz’s favorite part of teaching has been helping to provide inclusive opportunities for students with unique needs.

During retirement, Ms. Ragatz has many plans. She said, “I love to travel. I love to plan the trips.” Ms. Ragatz is excited to travel out west to see the mountains and go to national parks. She said, “We have never really been out west, so that would be a new place to travel.” She is also excited to do other things. She said, “I also enjoy gardening and reading. I’m looking forward to actually finishing books now.” It seems that Ms. Ragatz is also looking to try some crafts. She said, “I love Pinterest. I like to pin things.” Ms. Ragatz is excited to see what new experiences retirement will bring. 

Even though retirement is an exciting time, many of Ms. Ragatz’s co-workers will miss her. Ragatz’s teacher neighbor Ms. Marilyn Olson said, “I’ve had the pleasure of being Mrs. Ragatz’s teacher neighbor for the past eight years. She has a gentle nature about her, but she advocates for her students when necessary. She’s not only my co-worker but my friend. I’m going to miss her fun-natured humor and our after-school chats. I wish her the best in her retirement.” Ms. Ragatz has made an impact on not only her students’ lives but her co-workers as well.

Ms. Ragatz has had a long and successful career at OHS. She has helped provide positive additions to the special education department at the OHS. Her co-worker Ms. Olson said, “Mrs. Ragatz and I worked together to make some changes to our STRIDE program over the years,  and she has probably seen more changes in special education than most.” Even though she only worked with a small group of students, Ms. Ragatz’s influence in the special education department, OHS and her students’ lives will last for years to come.