Longtime ECFE educator retires

By Nicole Brodzik
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A retirement party for Marilyn Laulainen was held at the Waconia ECFE building on Thursday, May 11. (Nicole Brodzik/The Patriot)

Marilyn Laulainen had tears in her eyes as she welcomed families into the Early Childhood and Family Education (ECFE) building on May 11. After 30 years as working with Waconia’s ECFE program, it was time for Laulainen’s retirement.

“I’ve been privileged and humbled to work with so many families and help give children their start in the schools,” she said.

Families flocked to the ECFE building for food, drinks and play time outside with Laulainen. She said she’s enjoyed seeing so many children get their start in Waconia’s schools through ECFE.

“I have seen children become very active through the school system, certainly a lot of the children are even adults now and some returning with their families to ECFE,” Laulainen said. “Watching them learn and grow, it’s an awesome program.”

Laulainen said that in her 30 years as a member of the staff, she’s seen the program grow to help hundreds of children and parents make that transition into life at school.

“Being able to start with parents in their years of infancy with their children and helping them on the path to education has been a privilege,” she said. “Just being there for parents and giving them the support. They know they are not alone with some of the parenting ups and downs, and they can celebrate and share their concerns too.”

With this program being unique to Minnesota schools, Laulainen said she sees it growing throughout the United States in the future and said she hopes the one day education is looked at as “E-12 versus K-12.”

As for her own future, Laulainen said she plans to travel and spend time with her grandsons, but hopes to contine working in some form of education. She said she’s confident the rest of the ECFE staff will be able to handle it all just fine without her.

“I have so much appreciation for my staff who is so incredibly talented,” Laulainen said.