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Monday, April 15, 2024


Last Friday morning, I sat in Mass with Jackson, my youngest, a fifth grader. This Mass was not the normal weekday school Mass. The church was filled with uniformed students with their parents or their classes who were there for the funeral Mass of beloved third grade teacher, Katie (Catherine Marie) Schwenk.

Miss Schwenk taught both my children at Holy Rosary Catholic School. A former sister of St. Benedict, she was a loving and attentive teacher in the Evansville Diocese for more than 40 years. At her funeral, Fr. Bernie Etienne said, “I really did think I was special around her — until this week, when I’ve had so many conversations with you all, and I look around here and realize Katie Schwenk made you all feel special.”

As I have been thinking about Katie, I’ve thought about the qualities teachers – especially teachers of young children – possess. My husband and I both are kids of school teachers. Through the years, we’ve discussed our own experiences with teacher traits when talking about our mothers. Usually, it’s with warm humor.

I grew up thinking most households required popsicles be “checked out” from the freezer – not that they would be returned, but so they could be accounted for.

And don’t all school teachers make buttons? Where else can a son-in-law get a #1 Syracuse Fan button made (for the Kentucky vs. Syracuse, April 1, 1996, NCAA Championship)?

My husband’s family lived in a holiday world, but not the theme park: Their home was decked floor to ceiling in seasonal holiday décor, strengthening our observations about teachers and holidays.

Though I offer humor relating to growing up in teachers’ households (teachers do live in houses, not schools) perhaps it is appropriate to think about and thank, if possible, your teachers today.

Photo courtesy of Holy Rosary. Katie Schwenk celebrates Field Day with Claire Talbert and Allison Compton.

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