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Learned educator
Great Bend's Don Learned wraps up six-decade career in May.
Don Learned 2024
Don Learned is pictured substituting for Mr. Joseph Bliven's 1 p.m. science class at the Great Bend High School on Wednesday, April 24.
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Great Bend has a good, sound educational system. That was always a high priority for our family.
Don Learned

Don Learned is an education specialist, as not just his degree will attest. An educator for 66 years, he has spent more than a half-century in Great Bend, where he has been a teacher, a principal, a Barton Community College board of trustees member and a training seminar presenter on the merits of a Kansas education.

As the current school winds down, he may be found in a different classroom at Great Bend High School or Middle School, depending upon the day, as a substitute teacher.

Like most of the students (and teachers too), Learned is counting down the days until school is out, but maybe not for the same reasons. He and his wife Elsie are preparing for the big move, in the fall, that will take them to Texas, where he is relocating to be near his daughter and grandson who, ironically, reside in the community of Fate, which is a 30-minute drive from Dallas.

“We’re taking our time, but we will have to step it up some,” noted Learned. “But I’m sort of counting the days until school is out.”

“Sort of” means that Learned will be leaving the environs of USD 428, which for anyone so immersed would be hard to do, especially his connection to Roosevelt Junior High, where he was principal from 1972-92.

Starting small

Born in Stafford County in 1936, Learned received his early schooling in a three-room grade school at Zenith, 6 miles east of Stafford. He graduated from Stafford High School in 1954 and then earned his bachelor’s degree in history and education from Sterling College in 1958. His first job was as a sixth-grade teacher in Haysville, Kan. and then moved up to junior high school history from 1959-1966.

He got his master’s degree from Emporia State University in Social Science in 1964. Continuing education had him earning his Education Administration certification from Wichita State University from 1970-72, spending summers and evenings in study. His specialist degree was earned from Fort Hays State University in July 1979.

Arriving at Roosevelt

After 14 years of teaching at Haysille, Learned was hired as principal of RJH in 1972. He also spent summers teaching history to Great Bend students from 1973-1975.

“One reason that I stayed at Roosevelt for 20 years was that we had a great faculty,” he said. “We all worked well together and the teachers really cared for our students.”

In 1992, he moved to the principal’s position at Jefferson Elementary school, where he served until 1994.

Currently, he serves on the Board of Trustees at Barton Community College, which he has done for 18 years.


A member of First Southern Baptist Church in Great Bend, Learned lists gardening and watching historical DVDs as hobbies, as well as reading and travel.

As a member of the Great Bend community since 1972, Learned notes that it was a caring and safe environment to raise their daughter Pamela. “Great Bend also has awesome medical facilities,” Learned noted. “It’s a small city, but it has attributes of a larger one. The people are caring and progressive.”

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