Same school, same room. Two Fargo teachers meet and discover a shared career

Maybe it's serendipity or the magic of Christmas, but two Fargo school teachers — one retired — have met each other through the local Meals on Wheels program. The chance meeting revealed one incredible shared teaching detail.

A smiling woman leans down next to a smiling older woman, who is seated in an armchair.
Helma Mitchell, 102, of Fargo, meets Fargo teacher Emily Netland. Netland's parents deliver Meals on Wheels to Mitchell. A random meeting brought these two teachers together, and they made a great discovery.
Contributed / Judy Seibel
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FARGO — Fargo resident Helma Mitchell sure looks forward to when her Meals on Wheels team of Bruce and Judy Seibel and grandson Eddie deliver noon lunch to the retired Fargo School teacher during the week.

"Well, thank you. You brought my lunch. You're a good guy," Mitchell said to young Eddie, who helped deliver her meal.

Mitchell — who is about to turn 102 — was born on a farm near Kindred. She taught school in Aneta in 1940 and later came to teach at Horace Mann Elementary and Washington Elementary in Fargo.

"I love teaching. Every day was special, because you have different students and they inspire you as much as ever," Mitchell said from her Fargo home.

When she told her Meals on Wheels family that she was a teacher in Fargo schools for 35 years, they told her about their daughter, Emily Netland, who is also a Fargo teacher. Netland wanted to meet Mitchell.


"One day, there was no school, so I went with (for meal delivery) and walked in with Eddie," Netland said. "And then we were talking, and she asked me where my classroom was, and I said, ... 'You go up the stairs, you take a right.' She said, 'That was my classroom.'

"It's just really neat and special to have that connection," Netland said.

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That's right. Room 106 at Horace Mann, where Netland teaches first grade, is the same room where Mitchell taught back in 1959.

"Yes, it was just kind of exciting, because that didn't happen very often," Mitchell said.

All because volunteers with Meals on Wheels took the time to not only bring a meal to Mitchell, but become like family to her. It's a connection she celebrates as she prepares to mark 102 years in North Dakota.

Kevin Wallevand has been a Reporter at WDAY-TV since 1983. He is a native of Vining, Minnesota in Otter Tail County. His series and documentary work have brought him to Africa, Vietnam, Haiti, Kosovo, South America, Mongolia, Juarez,Mexico and the Middle East. He is an multiple Emmy and national Edward R. Murrow award recipient.

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