Ostendorf and Danner, mainstays through school changes, retiring

Ann Ostendorf (left) and Lori Danner | photo by Noah Rohlfing

~by Noah Rohlfing for the Scranton Journal

Greene County Elementary has seen lots of change over the past 30-plus years, but two of the ever-present teachers at the school, Ann Ostendorf and Lori Danner, are hanging up their pencils and retiring at the end of the school year.

Ostendorf, a kindergarten teacher for 35 years who has labeled each one of her classes “The O Team,” expressed that she’s comfortable with stepping away and giving a new teacher an opportunity.

“We still have what we have, and that will be cherished,” Ostendorf said. “I feel blessed that I was able to give back to Jefferson what they gave to me.”

Ostendorf has taught through the addition of multiple towns to the school district, as Jefferson-Scranton became Greene County. But the kids, Ostendorf said, were the easiest part of every transition. Her connection to the kids she sees in her classroom every day is what she said would be the hardest to go without.

Running into former students and, recently, teaching the kids of her former students, has been something Ostendorf is very grateful for.

“I encourage it to be a family,” Ostendorf said. “I always tell them, ‘once in the O Team, always in the O Team.’

“I will miss that, but it’s just been a treat to be there for kids.”

Retirement from full-time teaching won’t be the end of Ostendorf’s involvement in the Jefferson community, however. In fact, she plans on getting more involved with her in-town passion projects.

The biggest of those is the Bell Tower Festival, an undertaking she has not been able to participate in as much as she would have liked lately. But along with family time and community endeavors, the exciting aspect of retirement for Ostendorf is the prospect of attending more Iowa State football and basketball games.

Ostendorf said her new chapter doesn’t mean slowing down.

“I’m now back ready to get back into volunteering,” Ostendorf said. “Getting a part time job, volunteering a lot, if I want to go see my kids I have more time to go see them…Just enjoying life.”

Lori Danner has taught at Greene County schools since she was hired at Scranton back in 1987, a year before Scranton was added to Jefferson schools. She hasn’t looked back since, becoming an integral part of the Jefferson community and leading initiatives as the K-fourth grade physical education teacher at the county’s elementary school.

The biggest of those initiatives might have been Danner’s work with the Greene County chapter of Jump for Heart, a nationwide event with the purpose of promoting the American Heart Association.

“It’s a unified community. If we ever ask, they’re there,” Danner said. “This area has just been phenomenal on the amount of donations and money raised through these years.”

The Elks’ statewide free throw shooting competition is another of Danner’s many community projects.

Danner has formed relationships with so many students during her tenure in the school district partly due to her role as a physical education teacher, which allowed her to meet and have interactions with every student in the school. Her end-of-year programs, which consisted of songs and skills learned during PE class, were popular in the school district and a sort of calling card for her fun attitude to her job.

Danner said that having fun with the kids and teaching them life lessons before they moved on to junior high was something she cherished.

“32-33 years, 300-400 kids a year, that’s a lot of kids,” Danner said. “We have helped so many kids, it’s just awesome.”

Much like Ostendorf, her retirement will allow her to go see more Iowa State athletic events, especially football and basketball.

But her role in the Glidden and Greene County communities will still be large.

“One of my main goals is to have more family time to see my granddaughters,” Danner said. “I am part of committees in my hometown of Glidden, plus, I’m a people person. I will need to be out and about.”

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