Editor’s Note:  A commemorative plaque for Joyce Jenny was recently installed at Minnewaska Area Elementary School (MAES) in Glenwood.  Her estate donated funds to the Minnewaska Laker Association Endowment Fund to be used to improve education opportunities for young students.  Below is the information about Miss Jenney that is included on the plaque at MAES.  An essay, written by Paul Gremmels a few years ago, accompanies this story and can be found on Page 6A. Gremmels was one of Miss Jenny’s students.  

“Miss Jenney!”

Joyce Marilyn Jenney was born in Wilmot, South Dakota, in 1930 and was raised in Morris, Minnesota, where she was one of six children. Ever since she was young, she knew she wanted to be a teacher. She was valedictorian of her graduating class and the first in her family to attend college. With highest and special honors, Joyce graduated from Winona State University in 1964 with a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education. She earned her Master of Science degree in Elementary Education in 1971. Joyce attributed the foundation of her success to the professors and programs at Winona State. Without her scholarship, her family would not have been able to afford to send her to college.

As her students knew her, Miss Jenney was a beloved kindergarten teacher in Glenwood from 1960 – 1991.

She was the first Teacher of the Year recipient in the Glenwood school district and served as the Glenwood Education Association president. In 1976 Joyce was the first Glenwood representative to be elected to the MEA Central Lakes Uniserv Governance Board and was also the first elementary teacher and the first woman to be elected as a director to this board. She went on to be a delegate to the representative assembly of the National Education Association in Dallas, Texas.

Whatever Joyce decided to do, she put her whole heart and soul into it. She wrote a book titled Teacher; You Have Smiling Eyes, where she shares her insights about teaching and also delightful and touching stories about life through a kindergarten child’s eyes. She dedicated her book to her students “For the priceless gifts they gave me that have made me the person I am today.” In her book, she says that the loveliest compliment she had ever received in her entire life came from one of her kindergarten students when he looked up at her and said, “Teacher, you have smiling eyes.” 

Joyce loved and adored her students. She made a point to really know them.

She knew their interests, she knew their struggles, and she formed relationships with their families.

One example of her compassionate heart is when Joyce found out which students had not had breakfast at home and worked with the kitchen staff to find a way to provide a little extra nutrition for them.

Joyce was very active in the Glenwood community.

She worked with the Minnesota Literacy Council and volunteered to help teach adults how to read. She was involved in community theater, where she and other Glenwood Education Association members held a variety show where proceeds went to the addition of the Pope County Historical Society Museum. Joyce was also part of a GEA concert where the proceeds went to the future education of Vietnamese children. The president of the local Jaycees came into her kindergarten classroom and surprised her with a plaque honoring her for being chosen as “Citizen of the Month.”

As she will always be known by her colleagues, students, and their families, Miss Jenney had a lifelong impact on her students. She was thrilled to be invited and attend her former kindergarten students high school class reunions.

As Glenwood Education Association President, Joyce came to classrooms, welcomed teachers back to school, and made herself available if they needed anything. People who knew Miss Jenney knew she had a love for fashion. She often wore brightly colored dresses with matching shoes and beautiful jewelry. She even modeled in local style shows for her good friend, who owned a fashion store.

To this day, Miss Jenney’s students, who are now parents, often come into her former classroom just to look around. The conversation usually starts out with,

“This was my kindergarten room. I had Miss Jenney,” and the memories will start to flow. They talk about her with such fondness and admiration.

Miss Jenney’s love for young children and education will continue to grow due to her estate’s contribution to the Minnewaska Laker Foundation Endowment fund.

About the Minnewaska 

Laker Foundation

The Minnewaska Laker Foundation exists to enhance Minnewaska Area Schools’ programs and facilities. The Foundation was formed in 2007 as a non-profit organization to support and improve activities programs at Minnewaska. The mission has since expanded to also support classroom excellence. The Laker Foundation helps promote academic, fine arts, music, and athletic activities by helping fund equipment, supplies and special projects.

The Foundation seeks to emphasize academics and personal development through excellence in the classroom and quality activities and programs as well as create meaningful ties among the schools, alumni, and greater community.

The purpose of the Minnewaska Laker Foundation Endowment Fund is to:

•Raise a significant amount of money.

•Invest and preserve the principal.

•Use the earnings generated by the principal to enhance and support school district programs and facilities.  

The Fund earnings will be used for items “above and beyond” the items that are typically funded in the school budget. (For example, classroom textbooks, furniture, maintenance expenses, consumable items and staff development are paid for by the school and not through the fund). The Fund will provide lasting financial support for the Laker Foundation’s mission to support student excellence.  

For more information about the Minnewaska Laker Foundation’s Endowment Program, financial gifts, and fund distribution, Email: