Road Taken Book Review
Book Reviews by Ann Jonas, Tradebook Buyer - CSB/SJU Bookstores
this review was published in the St. Cloud Visitor
"The Road Taken: A Journey through Central Minnesota, High School Classrooms, and Around the World" by Jim Studer; August 2016
St. Cloud native Jim Studer uses Robert Frost's poem "The Road Not Taken" to introduce his newly published book "The Road Taken." Studer states that Frost's traveler never took the road less traveled: "as the poem seems to be a metaphor for life's journey, there is no one road 'less traveled by.' We all travel our own road, which no one else has or ever will travel." The road Studer traveled is chronicled in his book; central Minnesota readers will find his journey most interesting.
Studer grew up in north St. Cloud and attended grade school at St. Paul's Catholic School and then Cathedral High School in St. Cloud. He graduated from St. Cloud State College, earning a degree in Language Arts. From there, he began his teaching career at Albany High School as a speech teacher and coach. After eight years, he moved to Maple Lake High School, where he taught for another eight years. He then taught at Escola Maria Imaculada in Sao Paolo, Brazil for four years before returning to Minnesota to earn his Master's degree in Speech Communication, followed by seventeen years at St. Anthony Village High School. Studer was head coach in speech at all the schools except in Brazil. He remains an assistant speech coach, although he's retired from teaching.
"Forks in the road" that Studer identifies as turning points in his life start with his parents' decision to send him to a Catholic school as a first grader when he was not yet six years old. He struggled in school but feels he learned to work hard and never give up as a result. Studer identifies teachers and coaches that made a difference in his life, the "Sherpas of My Trek." He identifies Miss Margaret Ryan, his eighth-grade teacher, as one of his most influential teachers. Sr. Conan spurred him to teach a grade school religion class when he was a senior at Cathedral, which convinced him that he could teach.
Studer's maternal grandparents, who lived in St. Wendel, were a major fixture in his youth. He dedicates a chapter in the book to some of the memorable experiences he had with them. His reminiscences of his growing up years, both in St. Wendel and St. Cloud, are quite enjoyable.
The chapters Studer dedicates to his teaching experiences - which include some interesting thoughts on education - illustrate his goal to help his students "think, solve problems and enjoy a wider, richer life." He identifies the humanities class he taught for thirteen years in St. Anthony Village as one of his favorite classes.
Traveling has been a big part of Studer's life. In 1990, he had the opportunity to travel around the world. He devotes a chapter to his experiences while touring numerous countries around the globe. His travels to India, Nepal, and South America, while teaching in Brazil, are all engaging narratives.
Several of the chapters in the book were published in "Crossings," the Stearns History Museum's bimonthly publication. Studer refers to many familiar names including people he grew up with in St. Cloud and students he taught at Albany High School. "Brushes with Sports History: Tales of Central Minnesota Sports of the '50s, '60s and '70s" recounts some of the memorable sports figures recalled by Studer.
A professional editor could have polished some of the rough edges of this book. Certainly some of the spelling and punctuation in the book could be improved on. However, "The Road Taken" is a worthwhile and pleasant read.