Cheryl A. Watkins

cheryl a. watkins
Cheryl Ann Watkins was born October 16, 1941 to Ward and Florence (Oswell) Watkins in Cloquet, Minnesota. She graduated from Cloquet High School in 1959. In 1963, she earned a Bachelor of Science in History from the University of Minnesota at Duluth. She began teaching in the Fargo Public School system that same year, where she taught at Agassiz and later at Fargo South High School until her retirement in 1998. She continued assisting with South’s speech, student congress and debate team for several years after her retirement. Cheryl also represented District 21 as a Republican in the North Dakota House from 1973 to 1976. Cheryl enjoyed coaching speech and debate, traveling and the Girls Scouts. She was North Dakota debate coach of the year in 1989, 1991 and 1995, as well as the Communication, Speech and Theater Association of North Dakota teacher of the year in 1990. She was inducted into the CSTAND Hall of Fame in 2002. She was active in Girls Scouts both as a child and adult. She developed life-long friendships through scouting that she dearly cherished. Cheryl traveled the world and enjoyed numerous South America, Africa and Asia trips. Most recently she toured many parts of Europe on river cruises and also met fellow travelers who would become dear friends along the way. Cheryl was preceded in death by her brother and parents. She is survived by her nephew Steve Watkins of California and Suzanne Schaunaman of Minnesota and countless friends and students who will remember her fondly. Per her wishes, there will be no service.

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Memories Timeline


  1. Oh, Miss Watkins. You will never be forgotten. Thank you for your wisdom and for your sense of humor. Take those well earned wings and fly high!

  2. Cherly was an excellent historian and teacher when I attended Agassiz. Keep us on our toes towards our future life’s experiences. Her knowledge and her quit wit directed us students towards a successful future. She was also a great republican. She will be missed.

  3. I worked with Cheryl for three years while I was the principal at Agassiz. She demanded a great deal from her students, but even more from herself as she guided them to learn and grow. She loved to sit and , as she would say, “chip teeth” for hours on end after school. Given her background the topics were wide ranging. I can see Cheryl and Paul Gravel visiting now. Not sure who will get the last words in, but you can be sure, it will be interesting and entertaining.

    Rest in Peace Cheryl.

  4. Cheryl’s intellect and dedication to North Dakota students is unparalleled. She was a great teacher as well as speech and debate coach. Her enthusiasm was infectious. She made a difference.

  5. Ah, Cheryl, you will be missed by all sorts of people. I was doing by practice teaching at Agassiz and met Cheryl. She told a year off to finish her thesis and I saw her at SU where she was talking a couple of courses. The US history department will never be the same. She was a strong feminist and I can imagine the talks she and the hockey coach must have had. I could go on with many stories, She was one of the good ones.

  6. Cheryl, you are forever a part of me as Miss Watkins. I was twice blessed to be your student. You were my 8th grade History teacher at Agassiz and my cooperating teacher for my Sudent Teaching at Agassiz a dozen or so years later. Thank you for being the iron fist in a velvet glove. You knew how to persuade me to reach inside and excel. I am at the tale end of a teaching career that has constantly had you as a major guide and influence. Thank for the gift of you to me.

  7. Ms. Watkins, hands down the finest teacher I ever had. She always gave 100 percent and inspired those she taught to attempt the same.

  8. Thank you for teaching my kids with a challenging class. I loved it that you were a legislator giving kids the idea that you should participate in government. And kudos to the school board for letting you go to Bismarck.

  9. I thoroughly enjoyed Ms. Watkins history class at Agassiz. Some of her sayings were priceless like “When Chrissy and the boys came to America” (Christopher Columbus). I still tell my daughter she was the only teacher ever to give me an F+ on a test. She told me the “plus” was for effort. I took it in stride since she was very fair overall and I learned lots. She will be missed.

  10. Well, darn it, Cheryl! We will have to wait to catch that cup of coffee! You were a great person! So fun, intelligent and challenging! Nothing but fond memories of you. You will be missed by all who knew you.

  11. Miss Watkins you were one of the Best! I will never forget you. You inspired me and always challenged me. Rest in peace.

  12. Ms. Watkins was my 8th grade US History teacher, and one of those educators who you always remember, even 4 decades later as is the case for me with her. She brought a passion as an educator that inspired her students like myself to yearn for more. I distinctly remember her term paper assignments in particular. I went on to earn a degree in Social Studies/Secondary Education because of the prominent role that she and other Fargo educators had on me. She was truly an exemplary teacher for myself and so many of my friends. Rest in peace, Ms. Watkins.

  13. Cheryl was a close family friend for almost 50 years. We met when she lived at my mother’s house, and were friends and colleagues during my years teaching in Fargo. She was an amazing woman who fought for human rights, stood by her principles, encouraged and enlightened students and never found a challenge too difficult to overcome. Cheryl was bright, strong, loyal, outspoken and adventurous. Her students respected her, her colleagues admired her and her friend’s loved and enjoyed her. We will miss her keen wit, warm company and strong sense of right and wrong. She was truly one of a kind!
    May she rest in peace!!

  14. Cheryl was a dear, dear friend for many years. She was bright, wise, accepting of all kinds of difficulties in everyone, had a quick wit, expected the best from her student and they worked to achieve the best.

  15. Miss Watkins made a huge impact on me — probably more than any single teacher I had before college. She taught we me to think critically, and that I could be anything I wanted to be. Very sad news.

  16. I worked with Cheryl for many years at South High. She was an outstanding teacher, very bright, very well-read, and she expected her students to think. Cheryl was very strong in her views on many topics and I enjoyed the many discussions we had as colleagues. I’m so glad I had the chance to know this remarkable individual.

  17. RIP Cheryl. It was an honor having you for a teacher and a friend !!! You would put your foot down to make your students excel. Sometimes you did it and people would call u “Sarge” My condolences go out to your family and you begin your new life with no pain or worries, just smiling down on everyone and making us feel safe !!!

  18. Known first as my eighth-grade teacher, Ms. Watkins was a force! She had high expectations for us, shared her wealth of knowledge and challenged us to not be “toads” – to stand up and do something! I remember clearly begging my parents to let me go on one of the Boundary Waters canoe trips Ms Watkins led; alas, I was not able to go but had friends relish the trip. Later, I became colleagues with Cheryl at South High, and still felt dwarfed but also enlightened by her experience and wisdom. More importantly, she helped me find my own voice and mentored me to get involved in causes for which I found a passion. Indeed, her keen interest in knowing about and understanding the Holocaust lives with me still. A strong, wise educator and friend has been lost. Thank you and peace to you, Cheryl.

  19. Certain people stand out in your memory, and she was certainly one of those people. One of the best teachers I ever had, I was lucky enough to have her as a coach (debate and We The People) as well, and it says a lot about how good she was that we went to nationals in both.

  20. Ms. Watkins was on each of the most knowledgeable ladies I ever had the privilege to meet. She was an outstanding educator….they definitely do not make teachers as brilliant as her.

  21. Simply one of the best. Cheryl Watkins was my 8th grade history teacher at Agassiz. She taught us history — and taught it well — but she also taught us the skills necessary to be successful students in high school and beyond. I learned to take notes in her class. Smart and funny with high expectations for all. I still remember the research papers I wrote, and how she told us that we better not come asking for extensions to the deadline unless we had been run over by a Mack truck. A real class act.

  22. “Miss” Watkins was the first teacher that challenged me to think for myself. I am a better person from the many ideas she taught and the way her teaching trained her students to teach themselves. She was a true “Maverick ” whose intellect was the foundation of the respect she commanded RIP.

  23. Cheryl was wonderful to our mother and we enjoyed lots of happy times together. She was bright, funny and not afraid to stand up for what she thought was right. She will be missed.

  24. RIP, Miss Watkins. You were a marvelous teacher. I have never forgotten you. You impacted so many. Thank you for caring.
    Lynn (Harty) Ketelsen

  25. Cheryl was an amazingly intelligent and inspiring woman. She had a wickedly wonderful sense of humor and was a great mentor to many of us. She lived a courageous life, never letting pain slow her down. I will never forget Cheryl. I see she chose not to have a service, but I would love to get together with others to raise a toast to this incredible woman.

  26. Cheryl played a significant and positive role in my high school career, and for that I will always be grateful. Teacher and coach, she was excellent at both. I’ll remember her for her guidance and encouragement in speech, debate, student congress, and in the classroom. She was a rare teacher.

  27. Ms. Watkins expected daily reading in her class. I skipped it once that I remember. She discovered my state of ignorance regarding some question. She sought the answer: Fort Knox. I’m sure, much to the delight of the class, Ms. Watkins lifted the lid of my desk, grabbed me by the back of the neck, stuck my head deep into the desk, closed the lid, sat on it, pinning me in, and began saying “Fort…? Fort…? Fort…?” and knocking on the lid as a clue. Stuck inside my desk, turning a bright magenta, quickly beyond thought, clues did me no good. Eventually, she asked if I would like to call on someone for help. Someone may have saved my life that day and I never skipped daily reading again. I loved that woman and she knew it.

  28. Cheryl, obviously one of a kind. We knew her for years when our mother was alive and picked up the friendship again when we moved back to MN. She never lost her zest for life. And in that later part of the friendship, we both discovered we had a taste for good Scottish whiskey. One of the sharpest, most focused minds I have ever come across. And very very generous. She is a Fargo legend.

  29. I consider Ms. Watkins to be the best teacher I ever had and certainly one of my favorites. Intelligent with a sense of humor, she was faster than most with a quick witted retort. It’s been over 35 years since I was lucky enough to be in her classroom yet I can vividly recall her voice, mannerisms, etc. as if it were yesterday. Her enthusiasm, zest for knowledge and can-do attitude were inspirational.

  30. You were a damn good teacher.

    You led us to a better understanding of what it is to formulate, hold, and defend a position. Rather than simply spouting off half-baked ideas.

    Thank you Ms. Watkins. We are better for knowning you.

  31. What a fine fine lady in all respects. She gave her life to serve others! May GOD welcome her with open arms!

  32. Miss Watkins wad the toughest teacher I ever had. She taught me that I could do anything (including write a term paper in 7th grade). That paper was the hardest thing I ever had to do and thanks to her I knew how to write one in college! Thank you Miss Watkins. You were appreciated.

  33. ms. Watkins is someone I will always remember she has been and will continue to be someone of great character that is my privalidge to have had as a teacher and someone to look up to .I don’t remember much of many of my teachers in Agassiz jr high class of 83 BUT I remember her. My deepest condolences to family-she was someone who stood fast for her beliefs no matter what-I remember that-I feel lucky to have crossed paths with her.

  34. You touched and inspired so many in your years of teaching, Ms. WAtkins. It also sounds like you had an exiting life both during and after your teaching career… Rest well.

  35. Miss Watkins has always been included in my top 5 teachers/ professors in my life! I am saddened to hear of her passing and she will be missed tremendously. She had all the answers and they were always with witt and humor like no other. She was the only teacher I knew of who gave out a D– or an F+! RIP, Cheryl.

  36. Cheryl was an awesome history teacher. She made learning interesting. She will be missed. RIP Cheryl.

  37. Cheryl, you were a treasured friend, next-door neighbor, teacher, and mentor. Thanks for all you’ve given to those around you.

  38. Miss Watkins! What an inspiration. I will never forget her. She made us write TWO term papers for history class, 2000 words, perfectly typed, with footnotes and everything. This was a great assignment.

    We became friends after I graduated, and travelled together to Colombia. She was a great traveler. We spent many nights “chipping teeth” until dawn.

  39. Ms Watkins was an amazing woman – smart, kind and generous with her time for hundreds of students. The impact she has left on all of us is her legacy and she will be missed.

  40. So many students like myself were blessed to have you as our teacher! You were one of those special kind of teachers that if you are lucky you find a couple of them in your lifetime.

  41. I’m not sure that my post- posted. As a co-worker Cheryl was outstanding. As a friend she was the best. As a teacher she always pushed the envelope because she believed in her students. Cheryl will now enjoy her unique view of the universe.

  42. One more thing I remembered was sitting on the North Dakota Legislative Floor when she was in office. It was one of my thrills. A day I cherish dearly.

  43. Ms Watkins government class 1994…she opened class with the most thought proactive question on double jeopardy that I still recite to others with a twisted smile! It was one of my fondest memories because of her enthusiasm and way of engaging a class. What I dreaded ended up being my favorite class thanks to her! She was a wonderful teacher, role model and person and I thank her for the energy she spent on thousands of kids!

  44. Miss Watkins was such a memorable teacher that I still think of her (and I am 60) when I see a women driving a little sports car with a scarf flying behind her from her neck, as that was Ms. Watkins in my Agassiz days! She was such a spirit of a person! Always smiling, always truckin along in her swift stride down the halls. Always, always had a student in remorse of their actions if she caught you doing something wrong in her class. Her punishment was always some kind of a joke to make the rest of the class laugh, and she was really, really, good at this! Believe me…A true delight of a person…God speed to Cheryl and the legacy that she obviously left behind…..and to her little sports car too!!

  45. She was an incredible teacher – I remember her research papers and writing notes on recipe cards. She gave me the skills that helped me succeed in college and life. Thank you Ms Watkins.

  46. Teaching, traveling, canoeing, and skiing with Cheryl are some of my best memories. I’ll never forget staying with and getting to know Bud and her parents. She made a difference.

  47. You were a great teacher n wont ever forget erasing the boards when you were done with class. I always asked an sometimes wr joked a few times too. You wont be forgotten. Former student cynthia kile class of 1984

  48. On the last day of school I showed up 2 minutes late for her class. That summer she made me come into Agassiz to sit for 2 minutes. Just her and I. I guess she showed me who was in charge.

  49. I just discovered this. Rest in peace Miss Watkins. You were one of the best teachers I’ve ever had and what I remember about you most is that you took us seriously. It’s been many years since 1970 but I will never forget you.

  50. Ah Miss Watkins. I adored you. From you I learned to think, and write. I remember your showing “Night and Fog” to a room full of disbelieving students. And those two term papers. I am sorry I didn’t make an effort in my later life to reconnect with you. We would have had much to talk about.

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