COTTONWOOD — After 36 years in education and 26 at Cottonwood schools Rene Forsmann will retire at the end of this school year.
Born and raised on a dairy farm in Ferdinand, Forsmann was the oldest of nine children, born to Guy and MaryKay Jungert.
“We definitely learned the value of hard work early on,” she said. “Boy or girl, chores and responsibilities were a part of daily life.”
Forsmann’s mom told her children they were all going to attend college, so after she graduated from Prairie High School, she went on to the University of Idaho.
“I started in accounting, but soon discovered I wanted to teach,” she said. She graduated from the U of I the same year she married Joe Forsmann.
After Joe also graduated from the U of I, the couple moved to Post Falls where she worked as a bookkeeper, then went on to Worley where she taught 7-12 business classes and coached softball. She then went on to teach in Coeur d’Alene where she began a computer science program for grades six through eight, also spending three years there.
“Like many people do, we decided we wanted to move back to the prairie to raise our kids, Daniel and Sarah,” Forsmann said.
They moved their family to Cottonwood, and she began her journey at Prairie High School where she taught business courses and worked in Title I programs, as well. During this time, she finished her graduate degree in business education, as well as her administrative degree, both from the U of I.
“A year later, I started my administrative career with my first job at Nezperce as a junior-senior high school principal,” she said. Three years later, she became the Prairie Elementary School principal. She spent nine years at the elementary school and five years at the middle school. In 2010, she became superintendent of the district, as well as holding the job of PES principal.
When reflecting on her time at Cottonwood schools, Forsmann said she feels proud of the accomplishments made and the relationships built.
“Our district’s staff, parents and community are the backbone of our success,” she said. “The journey through closing, selling and remodeling buildings and operating a school system has been rewarding.”
Forsmann said the district has been fortunate to be able to utilize federal forest dollars to remodel and make capital improvements throughout the years.
“Our community has supported maintenance and operation of our systems by passing levies to help maintain our high academic standards and successful extracurricular program,” she emphasized.
Forsmann said she had begun to feel the pull to retire a year ago, but did not feel that, as a leader, she should do that in the middle of a pandemic.
“There were huge changes in that year, and it was important to lead and follow-through,” she said. “We have an engaged, supportive school board who helped greatly with all the transitions.” The staff members in this district are amazing leaders themselves and together we made this a very successful and positive year.
Although she will officially be “retired,” at the end of June, Forsmann has a part-time gig on the line: She will be a road construction flagger.
“I took the tests and I’m ready for some local, summer projects,” she smiled.
She will also do some part-time work with IDLA (Idaho Digital Learning Academy) and spend time with family, which includes three grandchildren.
August will bring a trip to Alaska, and time will tell what the rest of the year will bring, she said.
“Joe has a couple more years until he retires, but I’ll keep busy in the meantime,” she smiled. “We’re not going anywhere — this is our community.”