Last week, RCLS celebrated the retirements of four of its faculty and staff. These are people who have made RCLS what it is: a happy, healthy place to spend a childhood––or career, as the case may be.
Mrs. Barb Meyer has been the welcoming voice and face in RCLS’s front office for nearly 27 years.
Mrs. Laurie Korsmo has been teaching middle school for 38 years, the last four of those here at RCLS.
Mrs. Ann Peter has been teaching music at RCLS for the past 23 years.
And Mr. Paul Wickre taught for a full four decades. Although Mr. Wickre retired at the end of his 40th year of teaching in 2020, that year did not allow us to properly honor this 4th-grade teacher’s dedication, so we did so now.
It was a beautiful, celebratory Sunday for these faithful servants of Christian education. Thank you to so many in our school community who came to honor them. Now, before we send them on to other productive endeavors, we want to further celebrate their contributions to our beloved school. Join me in considering their memories of so many years well spent.
Barb Meyer is a Minnesota girl. Raised in Wykoff, she remembers a happy childhood with two younger brothers, fun cousins, and loving parents and grandparents. The memories she holds dear include weekend drives on country roads, which often meant a stop at the local root beer stand for a cone or float. Sounds idyllic, right? Once she graduated from high school, Mrs. Meyer started her adult life as a key punch operator at St. Mary’s Hospital before she married Lawrence and they started their family, four beautiful children that she was privileged to raise. For a while, Barb worked as a home daycare provider and a part-time at Shopko employee, but one day, as she picked up one of her children at RCLS for an appointment, RCLS’s longtime administrative assistant, Mona Finley, recruited her to serve as RCLS’s school health aide, a job that quickly expanded to all that Mrs. Meyer has done as the school receptionist. Mrs. Meyer could not have imagined that a few casual moments waiting on her child would turn into the decades-long ministry that she shared in RCLS’s office with Mrs. Finley.
Because of her role in that office, the hub of all that goes on in school, Mrs. Meyer has a particularly keen sense of where RCLS has been and where it is going. As a community, she says, RCLS has always been caring and service-centered. She notes that teachers have always “brought Jesus to the classroom every day.” As the school has grown and technology and information platforms have continued to change (expand), she says the demands on the office have increased. With each change of leadership at the school, some processes and priorities have changed, as well. Still, Mrs. Meyer has found the constancy of Christ in her workplace to be immensely centering as the school adapts to increasing enrollment and accompanying changes.
Now, Mrs. Meyer looks forward to a change of pace––a slower, more contemplative one, she hopes, as she intends to spend more time in nature with her Lord. An afternoon in the garden, a walk in a state park, a weekend camping trip, time and care for her family: these are the ways Barb intends to spend her time. Looking ahead at these possibilities is also cause for rejoicing for what is behind. RCLS “has been a beautiful journey,” she says, as she has had the opportunity to watch students grow and to share laughter and tears with fellow staff and parents. “Each and every one at RCLS has been a blessing to me,” she says, as she offers a prayer for each to find joy in every day.
It is with joy that we thank Mrs. Meyer for her years of selfless service in RCLS’s front office. She has been a model of consistency, a steady presence for generations of parents and children. To be sure, we rejoice in her and for her for a job well-done, but we wonder: whatever will we do without her?
Laurie Korsmo is a hometown girl from Rochester, Minnesota, where we don’t often run into hometown girls. The middle of three girls, she has many happy childhood memories of spending time with family and friends on the Mississippi River, riding horses, and caring for many pets. She graduated from Lourdes High School and ultimately received both a B.S. and M.S. in Education from the University of Minnesota. She spent most of her teaching career in the Rochester Catholic Schools, but we were blessed to have her finish her teaching career in RCLS’s middle school, where she taught math and also history, religion, and literature.
Mrs. Korsmo says she has always enjoyed working with middle schoolers and has a passion for math and science. For some time, she worked at the Rochester Public Library, a job she really enjoyed, but she did miss teaching and having direct contact with students, so when Mrs. Lagerwaard called about an opening in RCLS’s middle-school math department, she was thrilled to be able to apply and interview for the job. Taking the teaching position at RCLS “was one of the best decisions of my life,” Mrs. Korsmo says. “I feel like the Lord definitely led me to RCLS.”
When she came to RCLS, Mrs. Korsmo was immediately embraced by what she says is a “family.”
“Parents and staff partner together to educate the whole child,” Mrs. Korsmo explains, teachers hold the view that “each child is a gift from God to be loved and appreciated as the unique individuals they are.” She adds that she has “never worked at a place that is so full of joy, no matter what the circumstances. Christ’s love and joy permeate this whole place.”
That partnership between parents and teachers and the joy that characterizes teaching and learning, together with a “staff that is second to none,” are cause for Mrs. Korsmo to anticipate that RCLS will continue to grow in the coming years as “more families continue to share their experiences at the school.” She notes that the staff works hard for the benefit of students, but they also “joke, laugh together, and find the joy in each day.” She thinks this is contagious, and as students witness it, she thinks the camaraderie that trickles down creates a “very close, positive learning environment.”
Laurie says that retiring from RCLS was a rather difficult decision. “RCLS has been such a blessing in my life, and I am incredibly grateful that I’ve had the opportunity be part of this faith-filled community,” she explains. “I will really miss this family, but after teaching for 38 years, I’m also looking forward to pursuing some other opportunities for service, hobbies, and interests and to being able to travel to see my children more often.” More time for scuba diving, kayaking, hiking, and anything science and nature-related admittedly will thrill this teacher in the coming years, but we are grateful we will see her on campus as a substitute teacher now and then. We hardly can let such a joy-filled teacher completely off the hook, after all.
Ann Peter, RCLS’s choir teacher for more than 22 years, grew up in St. Paul, where she attended Central Lutheran School. Trained as a teacher at Concordia Academy in Roseville and then the University of Minnesota, Mrs. Peter has always been drawn to both education and music, so when she started directing choirs at RCLS, she was excited to find what she describes as the “perfect” job. She landed in that job after volunteering to play piano at operettas and Christmas programs and serve as a choir director from 1997-99, when her children were students at the school. She had been working for a brokerage firm prior to that, so she was delighted to take a teaching position in music, in which she appreciates the reward of “helping students discover their singing voices.”
“It is a beautiful sound,” she says. “I enjoy seeing the ‘ah ha’ moment when singers hear a different sound to their singing voice––a sound they did not realize they could produce.”
Mrs. Peter enjoys this aspect of teaching in various contexts at RCLS––from Kindergarten general music as little ones learn the basics of music to the concert choir, and even in the school’s spring musical, where she helps students perform theatrically. She considers it a privilege to have worked with staff, students, and parents in the RCLS community as she has “created music and praised God with the students of RCLS.”
RCLS has been a wonderful, God-inspired journey, says Mrs. Peter, and now she expects retirement will have more of a different kind of joy. Although she will continue to serve as the choir director at Grace Lutheran Church, her retirement from RCLS will allow her more time with children and grandchildren, all of which live in the Twin Cities, and for reading and sewing, two hobbies she has had throughout her life. She also anticipates traveling with her husband to National Parks and Monuments throughout the U.S. There are “many hikes to take,” she says with some amount of excitement as she steps into this next stage of her life.
RCLS is ever grateful for the gift of music that Mrs. Peter has brought to RCLS. We wish her the sweetest of sight and sound as she journeys on into what is ahead––on an occasional hike or two, perhaps.
When Paul Wickre retired after 40 years of teaching last year––40 years!––we published a story about his remarkable career in the blog. Be blessed: read it again or for the first time. After all, everyone loves one of Mr. Wickre's stories. And, just for fun, we couldn't help but resurrect this fun picture of Mr. Wickre trying to juggle at a school assembly before he retired. We are grateful to still have him around at RCLS as he now runs the Post program. He continues to benefit RCLS children there.
Congratulations to these remarkable people. They are some of what makes RCLS Rochester’s best school, and they will surely be missed in their previous roles in our community of Grace, Faith, and Learning for Life. We are so grateful for their role in making us so.