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Student Logan Stelten communicates with special-ed paraprofessional Frank Condon.

Jim Gehrz, Star Tribune

Logan & Frank: School buddies

  • Article by: GAIL ROSENBLUM
  • Star Tribune
  • February 20, 2012 - 3:33 PM

Logan Stelten, 15, has many helpers throughout her day at Pioneer Ridge Freshman Center in Chaska. But there is only one Frank.

Frank Condon, 61, retired from construction work seven years ago and began working at East Union Elementary School, doing everything from computer tutoring to bathroom monitoring. Six years ago, Logan, then a third-grader, stole his heart.

"She still has it," Condon says.

On a rainy Monday, just after 8 a.m., Logan steps off her school bus. Condon is there to greet her, as always. They take the stairs slowly, then bounce down the hall into a small classroom where Logan finds a laminated picture of a horse that will help her identify her locker.

Her baby book sits nearby, telling the story of why she is here:

"Dec. 2, 1991. I was four months old. All of us sudden, a huge pain in my head woke me up."

A blood vessel had broken in her brain. Surgery followed, then a very different life.

Logan has three sisters -- 8, 11 and 17. Her mom, Nanette, is a full-time homemaker. Dad is vice president of a manufacturing company.

Condon makes sure they know what he knows: "Logan used the computer today and was very focused on the program for over 30 minutes ... by HERSELF!" he writes in a daily journal. "It was incredible! "

He knows what she likes (Goldfish crackers, her reflection), what calms her (gentle pressure to her back, although as a male aide he is not allowed to hug her). He knows when she's sad: "9/27/06 Nan: Logan just wasn't herself today. ..." He knows her limits, but won't speak of them.

"It's a unique bond," says Logan's dad, Jim, of his daughter and Condon. "He has a real interest in seeing things through her eyes."

Condon figures he's the lucky one.

"She's a delightful child," he says. "Let's go get your horse, honey. That-a girl."

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