Parishioner Patti Black recently cleared out her things from her classroom at our school for the last time before summer vacation. She is retiring as our beloved kindergarten teacher after 43 years of service. This makes her the longest running employee at St. Francis de Sales School and Parish…EVER! A graduate of UW-Whitewater with a degree in education, she and her husband Mike moved to Lake Geneva when he took an accounting job. She was hired by Sr. Lucille Flores and has worked for 8 different principals. She started teaching at SFDS in 1974 and for seven years taught third grade. She then switched to kindergarten and has been in that position since 1981. She estimates that she has taught about 900 children (including 3 sets of twins!). Class size has ranged over the years from 5 students to 31 students.
How has kindergarten changed over the years? Patti states: “Kindergarten went from three hours to an all-day program. Kindergarten became more like the first grade curriculum of their parent’s time in school. All kindergartners now come from some type of preschool program where they have learned to play and socialize. The emphasis in kindergarten is on reading and language development. Kindergartners now go to first grade knowing all of their letters and sounds and being able to read and write 3 sentence stories. They also have been introduced to adding and subtracting and being able to count to 100.” The most touching moment for Patti was when she was nominated for the National Catholic Educator’s Award. “After all those years of teaching someone thought enough of me and my teaching skills to nominate me for an award. It was very humbling to read what Eric, two of my teaching colleagues and two families wrote about me in the nomination letter.”
It’s very rare to hear of anyone at the same job for this long of time! Her passion for teaching was a driving force. “I have been so blessed to work at SFDS for my entire teaching career. At first I thought I would just be here for a year or two. However, that thought quickly left my mind as I found a home with loving and caring parents who were involved in the education of their children. It was a home and school team. I had wonderful children to teach. I loved coming to school. Each day I looked forward to coming to school and teaching. I have had some wonderful coworkers who helped me grow both professionally and spiritually. SFDS supported me in all of the stages of my personal life.”
What’s in the next chapter for Patti? “I am looking forward to redecorating my house and tending to my many flower beds beyond the month of August. There will be time to cook healthier dinners, exercise and read more books. I plan on rediscovering my craft room and get back to scrapbooking and card making. There will be time for lunch and coffee with friends. I will be able to get back to doing things for our community and church. However, most importantly, there will be more chances to go to DC and spend time with my daughter, Melanie, my son in law, Chris and my granddaughter, Mae. I will be getting ready for my son, Tim’s February wedding. Best of all, I hope to have time to travel and just spend more time with my very best friend and love of my life the past 45 years, Mike Black. So forward I go! Thank you so much for letting me be part of your child’s academic and spiritual development. Thank you so much for all of the great memories.” Thank you, Patti for making a difference in so many children’s lives!
We will be hosting a reception for Patti this coming Sunday, June 30 after the 9 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. Masses. All alumni, parishioners, parents and students are invited to share some ice cream and say “thank you” to “Mrs. Black”. We will miss seeing your smiling face around school but please know that your enthusiasm for learning and your love of God comes shining through in all of your students!