On Monday, June 12th, from 3:30 to 5:30 in Parish Hall, we will be celebrating our soon-to-be retirees: Ms. Christjaener, Ms. Clinton, Ms. Hanson and Ms. Wydick. I hope that you will stop by and wish them well. These are four amazing women who have contributed so much to our school.
Marian Christjaener has been at our school for almost 30 years. She was an 8th grade teacher/7th grade social studies teacher for most of those years. Ms. Christjaener, with her quiet voice, easy laugh, incredible mind and calm command of her classroom, brought out the very best in her students and the adults around her. When you talk to Ms. Christjaener, you feel heard. In her class, 8th graders who struggled with math discovered their inner Euclid. Interesting units involving reading, writing, art, and group work and debates required students to go beyond just what was written in books or shown on videos and to think more deeply about the world and their responsibility to it. Several years ago, when Ms. Christjaener was ready to wrap up her teaching career, she wasn’t quite ready to leave us. She stayed on as our counselor. She listens, cares, and supports our staff and our students in need. With all that she is and in all that she does, Ms. Christjaener has made us better.
Margaret Clinton has been at St. Francis almost 40 years. Over that time, she taught multiple grades and positively influenced many lives. Ms. Clinton cared deeply about her students and was tireless in her effort to help them succeed. Her organization systems were impressive! Several years ago, Ms. Clinton was ready to retire as a classroom teacher but not ready to leave our school. She took on the role of fourth and fifth grade classroom aide and our in-house substitute teacher. She is flexible, gracious and willing to help with anything and everything. When she sees a need, she fills it without fanfare. She fixes things before most of us even know they are broken. I long ago lost count of the number of times that, without being asked, she has reached out to help a child or a staff member or showed up early /stayed late to help with an event or solve a problem. Ms. Clinton has supported and raised all of us up.
Trish Hanson has been at our school for 16 years. She started as a first grade teacher, was a reading resource teacher, and is now our vice principal. As a teacher, she was positive, faith-filled and organized. Her students’ transitions were impressive! She taught her students that they were loved by God and to always leave spaces better than they found them. She taught her students how to make the world a better place. Ms. Hanson was vice-principal during an incredibly difficult time. Adding to all the other responsibilities of the position, she managed the continually evolving COVID protocol, positive tests, and contact tracing with grace and persistence. She spent countless hours trying to keep our students, staff and families safe and supported. Ms. Hanson was and is a true blessing to our school.
Roxann Wydick has been our bookkeeper and office staff for 12 years but a member of the St. Francis of Assisi School for much longer. Growing up, she attended St. Francis. Later, she sent her three children here. Ms. Wydick’s STFOA roots run deep and strong. When Ms. Wydick let me know she was going to retire, we needed to write a description of her job in order to hire a replacement. First, Ms. Wydick can never be replaced. Second, the description went on for pages and didn’t begin to scratch the surface of what Ms. Wydick does for our school and all of us. As one person wrote in her nomination for this year’s Spirit Award “Roxann is as close to an angel as you will get on earth. She is always thinking of small things that make people feel cared about. She is that way for both students and adults.” This is who Ms. Wydick is at her core.
Ms. Christjaener, Ms. Clinton, Ms. Hanson and Ms. Wydick are incredible women. Our school is a better place because of their contributions to it. I will miss them all very much. Please join me in honoring them on Monday, June 12th.
Breathe. Pray. Be kinder than you think necessary. Thank you for being a community that lifts every student. Reach out if you can help or need help.