book cover
[+] Cover.
This version of Helen Ferslev's life is extracted from Women of Northeast Wisconsin: Dreamers and Doers published by the Green Bay Area Branch of the American Association of University Women in 1994, pages 93-94. page of book
[+] First page of chapter.


[+] Seven years old on Cora Street.

Helen Lucy Ferslev was born to Niels Lauritzen Ferslev and Clara Anne Jeffcott Ferslev on March 30, 1917. She has lived in Green Bay the greater part of her life. Her dream of a college education seemed impossible, but in 1936, she and her sister, Beatrice, decided to "tough it out" at the county normal [school] in Kaukauna, Wisconsin for a year of teacher training. It was here that Helen realized that, although she hadn't planned on it, she enjoyed teaching. Though her grades and her enthusiasm for this career ran high, she had to wait a year before finding an opening in a Brown County rural one-room school.

From that time on, she never stopped her interest, growth, and work in education. While teaching in Brown County schools, Helen continued her education with night classes, Saturday classes, and summer schools. In 1941, still short of her degree, she was accepted into the Green Bay, Wisconsin public school system. While teaching at Whitney and Elmore Schools, she was invited by Margaret Hendersen, Supervisor, to co-author a book on Wisconsin history with Margaret and Ethel [Dewey] Speerschneider. The book was published by the State Historical Society of Wisconsin, and was entitled It Happened Here.

Seven years later, after completing her B.S. degree at the Oshkosh, Wisconsin State Teacher's College, Helen was accepted as the first exchange teacher to England from the area. She spent an exciting year from 1948 to 1949, living and teaching in Brookwood, Surrey, and in traveling the European continent. This began a love of travel, which she still enjoys.

Back in Green Bay, in 1951, Helen was appointed principal of Jackson School. She continued her education, and in 1955, received her M.L.A. degree from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. During the sixteen years as principal, she saw the school grow from one hundred students to over nine hundred and had a part in the planning of three additions. It was at this time she realized the importance of having parents involved in their children's education. Many parents became volunteers in the school. She was also determined to create a library and organize it with the help of parents.

[+] The presidential address.

It soon happened that another form of education was occurring in Helen's life. She became actively involved with the Wisconsin Elementary Principals Association, eventually serving on the board as secretary and president. About that time, the National Association of Elementary Principals began to call on her to attend conferences and to take part in annual meetings. She was elected to the board of that association in 1962, as a member-at-large. In 1964, she was selected as President-elect, and finished the presidency in 1966. As a direct result of this, she was appointed to the Joint Council of Economic Education for one term, and later elected to serve on the Board of the National Science Teachers Association from 1966 to 1968.

In 1966, there was an opening for the position of Director of Elementary Education in Green Bay. Helen applied for, and was appointed to this administrative position, heading over twenty elementary schools in the Green Bay Area. During the twelve years of her tenure, she (1) helped plan five new building for the school system with the innovation that an instructional materials center (library) became the hub of the school, (2) found places for such centers in all of the other schools and staffed them at least part- time, (3) introduced the Language Experience Program (now called the Total Language Approach). This is the program incorporated into the Green Bay Alternative School, and as of 1990, in the new Laura Ingalls Wilder School, and (4) introduced the hands-on approach in science.

Following a decision to take early retirement in 1972, she continued her interest in education by becoming a part of the academic staff at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, as a supervisor of student teachers. She also served on the academic staff at St. Norbert College in De Pere, Wisconsin during the Spring Semester of 1985. Immediately upon retirement Helen was elected to the presidency of the Board of the Neville Public Museum Corporation. She led the board in the replacement of the old, and much smaller museum building. The City of Green Bay and Brown County jointly built the three million dollar museum and the corporation raised nearly two million more in private funds to build and house the exhibits. This was a splendid example of local, public and private cooperation in a community project.

Two other activites have held Helen's interest during her working years and into her retirement. As a lifetime member of St. Paul's United Methodist Church, she has sung in the choir, acted as youth director, and taught at several levels, with emphasis on adult education. She served on the building committee in the 1950's and is presently involved again on a new committee to make the church handicap-accessible. The other lifetime activity has been in the arts. Helen went back to college in retirement taking a variety of classes in painting, calligraphy and jewelry making. Her art interest plus the work with the museum led to local awards, the Fort Howard Fine Arts Award in 1984 and a special Apple Award from the Green Bay Education Association.

By permission of the Green Bay Area Branch of the American Association of University Women. for including the article about Helen Ferslev published in Women of Northeast Wisconsin: Dreamers and Doers copyrighted 1994. title page and copyright notice
[+] Title page and notices.
Date: Wed, 4 Feb 2015 11:26:44 -0600 Subject: Re: AAUW Green Bay Area - dreamers and doers From: Green Bay AAUW <> To: "" >> Peter, I finally got an answer back. You may include part of all of the entry about his aunt Helen Ferslev in the 1994 "Dreamers and Doers" book. Your attribution should be: By permission of the Green Bay Area Branch of the American Association of University Women. for including the article about Helen Ferslev published in *Women of Northeast Wisconsin: Dreamers and Doers *copyrighted 1994. Let me know if you need anything else. Kristine Green Bay AAUW Website and Communications Empowering Women Since 1881

This page is valid HTML5.