Helen L. Ferslev

Ferslev family
[+] The Ferslev family at home in 1936: Marjorie, Helen, Beatrice, Niels, Clara.
Sisters as children
[+] The Ferslev sisters.

Helen Lucy Ferslev was born the third daughter to Niels and Clara Ferslev on March 29, 1917. She attended the Green Bay School District from kindergarden through high school, graduating from West High as did both her sisters, Following high school she started her journey towards her life long ambition of becoming a teacher, by attending Outagamie Rural Normal School in Kaukauna to get her initial teaching certificate.

Upon her graduation from Kaukauna Normal, she began teaching first at a one room school house in Brown County. She taught there for a couple of years and then joined the Green Bay School district teaching at Elmore School. Green Bay was to be her home for the rest of her career, other than a year as an exchange teacher in England.

UW-Oshkosh diploma
[+] Oshkosh diploma, 1945.

She did not let her own education lag while continuing to teach in Green Bay. For several summers, she took classes at Oshkosh State Teachers College, now the University of Wisconsin - Oshkosh, eventually obtaining her Bachelors Degree in Elementary Education while continuing to teach in Green Bay during the school year. She then continued her education at North Western University in Evanston, IL, with the goal of getting her Masters Degree. Again this was done by taking summer classes while continuing to teach during the school year. She did obtain her Masters of Art Degree in August of 1955.

cover of It Happened Here
[+] Helen co-authored the 1949 edition of It Happened Here, the State Historical Society's book on Wisconsin history for elementary school students.

Her third position was becoming principal at Jackson School. During her tenure at Jackson, she took that school thru many building programs and instituted many new programs and involved the parents in the process of the education of their children.

Education was not only her profession but her passion. Following her time at Jackson School she applied for and was hired as Director of Elementary Education for the entire Green Bay Education System. Much as she missed the daily contact with students, she was able to make a greater impact on the lives of many more students and the quality of education in the Greater Green Bay Area.

[+] Turning on the computer at the National Association of Elementary Principals.

During her time as Director of Elementary Education, she became active in the National Association of Elementary Principals and was elected president of the association. One of her favorite stories was of attending a Green Bay Packer Game (yes she was a Packer Fan) but needing to leave at half time so that she could catch a plane at Austin Straubel Airport to be in Washington DC in time for the banquet where she was to accept the presidency of the organization.

[+] Meeting President Johnson.

It was at this meeting that she was introduced to the former President Lyndon B. Johnson.

Backing up in time, one of the highlights of her career was being an exchange teacher to England. During this year, she made many life long friends. This was quite an adventure for a single female back in the early 50's. She traveled on the original Queen Elizabeth both ways.

While pursuing her passion for education, she became involved with the Neville Public Museum and Heritage Hill State historical Park. What better way to expand her passion for education outside the classroom, than a museum and a Historical area. This also gave her something to look forward to in her retirement.

Helen has another passion that she was able to pursue her entire life and that was art. From pastels to oil as well as glass creations and etchings, she tried them all and took classes as time allowed to increase her knowledge of the different aspects of her art and to try different mediums.

Farm Scene, Watercolor Still Life, Sunflowers St Paul's narthex

Throughout Helen's life, the church was very important to her. From singing in the choir to teaching both adults and children to serving on various boards and committees, she was an integral part of St. Paul's United Methodist Church on Green Bay's west side. Helen also gave her artistic talents to increase the fullness of worship and community at the church. Many of the large banners which hang at the front of the sanctuary were designed by her. She was involved on the building committee when the congregation moved to its new building around 1952. She painted a Paul Bunyan scene for the Lumberjack Dinner which became a tradition in the new building. Later, when an addition was added to the west side of the building, she designed the stained glass window which is in the narthex [⤤].

[+] Relaxing at home in retirement.

Following her retirement from the Green Bay School District, she did not sit back and trade on her accomplishments but rather became very involved in the community projects that she had started while working. She was very instrumental in getting the community behind the expansion of the Neville Museum and the final building project on the banks of the Fox River.

cemetery monument
[+] At rest in Woodlawn Cemetery. The name on the stone is a reproduction of the signature Helen used on her paintings.

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