Posted December 8, 2006
After 26 years of service at Idaho State University, Margaret Phelps is retiring. She joined the University in 1980 as the dean’s secretary for the College of Health-Related Professions. The last 20 years have been spent as director for Workforce Training at the College of Technology.
Phelps grew up in southwestern Montana. The year following her high school graduation she served as an exchange student, spending one year in Monterey, Mexico, with a family. This is where she learned to speak Spanish. She returned to the University of Montana in Missoula and completed a Bachelor of Arts in foreign language and a teaching minor in office occupations in 1971.
After completing her education, she found a job teaching business topics and Spanish at Salmon High School. She taught at the high school from 1971 through 1974 and began work on a master’s degree through the University of Idaho. Her mentor at the time advised her of a position at the College of Southern Idaho (CSI). Margaret moved to Twin Falls and taught office occupations at CSI for six years. She received her master’s degree in business education in 1977. It was also during this time she met and married her husband, Larry. Later, Larry was transferred to Pocatello with his job and Margaret began her career at ISU.
In her 35-year career in education, Margaret has seen it from all viewpoints – student, teacher, secretary, and administrator, and comments that this has been great.
“I decided to be a teacher in second grade and have had wonderful mentors and people in my life who have been willing to ‘walk the mile with me.’ I love vocational and technical education, the University and my program. In Workforce Training I enjoyed the variety and gained a sincere appreciation for what people do. Knowledge is knowledge, only acquired in different ways,” Phelps said.She said all work is important.“ The janitor’s job is just as important as the professor’s or administrator’s,” Phelps said. “I admire them all when I think of all they have to know to do their jobs well. The honor in work comes from doing it well – not from the position. I have enjoyed working with so many individuals, facilitating what they want to learn. It is so rewarding to see the ‘lights go on’ when someone does a good job or learns something new.”
When asked the main highlight of her career, Phelps stated, “ the year we had over 10,000 enrollments in Workforce Training alone.”
About retirement, she states, “I have a thousand things on a list.” She and Larry plan to stay in Pocatello, at least for a while. She is a strong advocate for ISU and says she will utilize the services and opportunities that the University has to offer the public.