As a family and consumer science teacher at Sheboygan Falls High School, Vickie Meyer teaches her students hands-on skills that they can take with them in a career or in everyday life. It’s a lesson she learned herself as a student at Sheboygan Falls.
“My Sheboygan Falls education helped to prepare me for life by allowing me the opportunity to learn skills I could take directly into the workplace,” said Meyer, a 1978 graduate of Sheboygan Falls.
Meyer holds a bachelor’s of science degree from the University of Wisconsin-Stout and a master’s of education degree from Lakeland College. She lives in Howard’s Grove and took a job at Sheboygan Falls because it was close to home.
She has “fond memories” of her teachers and enjoys helping to inspire a new generation of students.
“I like knowing I’m a part of a district that cares about its students and continues to evolve in the learning process,” she said.
Elementary special education teacher Gina Koene was working in another school district when she heard about a job opening in Sheboygan Falls. She jumped at the chance to return home.
“I left the position to return to my hometown,” Koene said. “Knowing that my family is close is a priority. Having them active in our daughters’ lives is important to my husband and me. I am grateful for the initiatives that Sheboygan Falls continues to provide its students and that our girls will experience these opportunities in their education.”
Koene graduated from Sheboygan Falls in 1995 and has many positive memories of her education and especially of her teachers.
“Even though I grew up in a small town, I had a well-rounded education through academics, music opportunities and extra curriculars,” she said. “I appreciated – and still do appreciate – the small town atmosphere where I knew each classmate’s name and could build upon positive connections with my teachers.”
She is grateful for the many “memorable teachers who genuinely cared about my education and took a vested interest in me.” One teacher in particular become a mentor who helped her decide to become a special education teacher.
She appreciates the many close connections working for Sheboygan Falls brings her.
“I enjoy working with talented educators who have become close friends,” Koene said. “Our ability to collaborate and support students is something I really enjoy about my job. It is also rewarding to be able to see my daughters and visit their classrooms.”
“Expect the Exceptional” is the motto of the Sheboygan Falls School District and according to Sheila Kloepping, an alumna and now district resident and employee, Sheboygan Falls is all that and more.
“The district is amazing and I feel blessed to be part of it as a therapist, mother and community member,” said Kloepping, a 1996 graduate of Sheboygan Falls High School. A speech and language therapist, she holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Communication Disorders. She took a job with the district as soon as she could.
“The district is well known in the surrounding communities as being exceptional,” she explained. “Additionally, the Student Services Department is regarded highly among Sheboygan County and beyond. I always knew that as soon as a speech language pathologist position opened up in the district, I would apply.”
Kloepping remembers several motivating staff members who pushed her to do her best academically as a student and especially remembers learning language arts under Dawn Hogue. She also enjoyed being part of extracurricular activities like band, sports and clubs.
“I have come to appreciate all that Sheboygan Falls has to offer me and my family and am proud that my three children now attend this school district,” Kloepping said. “As a staff member, I see how dedicated this district is to the success of our students.”
By the time she was in first grade, Tamara Cotter knew exactly what she wanted to do when she grew up – be a teacher.
“I wrote a paper in first grade, Mrs. Klock’s room, talking about wanting to be a teacher when I grew up and I was able to do just that,” recalled Cotter, a 2002 graduate of Sheboygan Falls.
“I was able to make connections with my teachers throughout my education and I saw how they all cared for each of their students. I wanted to do that, too!”
Working with students in other grade levels in her Family and Consumer Education courses at Sheboygan Falls High School and as a high school helper confirmed her interest in education and she went on to earn a bachelor’s of science degree with an emphasis on Middle Childhood through Early Adolescence. She minored in math and English and now teaches eighth grade at Sheboygan Falls Middle School.
She started her teaching career in Milwaukee but moved back to Sheboygan Falls to be close to family and because she “always had a special place in my heart” for her hometown. She initially taught at St. Mary’s School but decided to apply for her current position after parents of some former students told her about it.
“I had always pictured myself teaching back in my hometown and luckily all of the pieces fell into place,” Cotter said.
She has many fond memories of being a student at Sheboygan Falls and really enjoyed the way her teachers made learning fun with hands-on projects and activities. And now she is doing the same with her students.
“I love being able to show students how much I care about them as individuals, helping them to believe in themselves and find joy and excitement in their education,” Cotter said. “Making math fun, watching students learn and be successful – it’s a wonderful feeling!”
Although she is not an official employee of the Sheboygan Falls School District, alumna Megan Kautzer certainly spends a lot of time there. Kautzer is the director of the Sheboygan Falls YMCA Child Care Program housed at Sheboygan Falls Elementary School.
“We have an amazing community partnership with the Sheboygan Falls School District,” Kautzer explained. “Not only do we house the community 4K program in our school-age classroom, we do have a classroom during the day for our 4K wrap-around program and we utilize the cafeteria after school for our school age classroom.”
A 2003 graduate of Sheboygan Falls, Kautzer credits her student experiences for helping her decide on an eventual career.
“The education that I received at Sheboygan Falls helped me to start my educational journey,” she explained. “I was able to get the foundation started by taking classes that sparked my interest in middle and high school that went along with a possible career choice. From those classes, I was able to make a decision if that career choice was an option for me.”
She has fond memories of her school days, especially band trips to Florida and Georgia that helped her learn that hard work and practice pay off in the end.
Kautzer holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s in school counseling. After college, she decided to return to Sheboygan Falls because she loves “the small town community vibe that Sheboygan Falls gives” and the “long lasting connections” that community members make with each other.
The most rewarding part about working in Sheboygan Falls has been the ability to give back to the community, she said. And she passes that commitment on to the next generation.
“I love being able to teach all the kids about helping out and giving back to their community,” Kautzer said. “The YMCA staff and I find awesome, unique and fun ways to help and give back.”
Friends and positive relationships are important in good times but also and perhaps even more so in bad. That’s one of the takeaways for Brian Berlin from his experiences as a student in Sheboygan Falls.
Berlin, a 1996 graduate of the district, returned to work there and is now Associate Principal of Sheboygan Falls High School. Asked to reflect on his time as a student, Berlin offers “a big thank you to all the Sheboygan Falls teachers, coaches and staff members who guided me through high school during all the good times but especially the bad.”
His appreciation for the support led him to return to the district and work there.
“I had the desire to give back and to try to make a difference in the community and school district that I grew up in that had given so much to me,” Berlin said.
He finds it especially rewarding to be able to play a positive role in the development of the youth of the community.
Berlin graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater with a bachelor’s degree in math education. He also holds a master’s of sports science degree in athletic administration from the United States Sports Academy.
Some of his best memories from his student days in Sheboygan Falls are the “unforgettable experiences and relationships” he built through participation in sports and school activities.
“My Sheboygan Falls education allowed me the opportunity to learn how to start and build positive relationships, develop a hard work ethic, and learn information and skills that have bettered my life,” Berlin added.
Her teachers at Sheboygan High School inspired Deb Hasler to pursue a career in education and even helped her decide on what subject she would teach. She just didn’t realize at first.
“In college, I was initially studying to be an English teacher and took some elective math courses for fun because of my love of math,” Hasler recalled. “My success in these classes – thanks to some amazing Sheboygan Falls High School teachers – was recognized by the professor and he suggested I pursue math education. I followed that advice and am very happy that I did!”
Hasler, a 1984 Sheboygan Falls graduate and a member of the 1983 state championship volleyball team, has been a Sheboygan Falls High School math teacher for 31 years. She was thrilled to be able to return to work in her home district.
“Sheboygan Falls has always surrounded me with good, caring people,” she said.
“Throughout my childhood, I had friends, neighbors and community members who helped me grow into a strong, successful adult. The educational and extracurricular experiences I had at
Sheboygan Falls were outstanding. I knew that I would love to teach in a district like Sheboygan Falls and wanted my children to grow up in a community like Sheboygan Falls as well.”
She especially likes the size of the student body, which she calls “big enough for diversity but small enough to get to know all of the students.”
She cherishes the relationships she has built with students and staff over the years.
“I have created lasting friendships with current and past staff members and truly enjoy coming to work every day,” Hasler said. “The thousands of students I have taught over the past 31 years have made an impact on my life in so many ways. It is a blessing to know that I have made a difference in the lives of so many people.”
Talk about your role reversal. When Katie Miller started working as an administrative assistant at Sheboygan Falls Middle School, she already knew some of her co-workers. She had taken classes from them during her own academic career in the Sheboygan Falls School District.
Miller, who graduated from Sheboygan Falls in 1997, took early childhood classes then went on to college and earned an early childhood certificate. She decided to settle in Sheboygan Falls as an adult “because it is a safe place to raise a family.”
She applied to work at the district because she had a child going to school there.
She remembers her school days fondly.
“I loved going to sporting events, being in a small school where everyone knew everyone,” Miller said. “It didn’t matter what grade you were in. Everyone was friends.”
And she is happy she was able to return to Sheboygan Falls as a district employee.
“Now I get to work here and some of my co-workers were my old teachers” she added. “It’s nice that they still remember you.”
You could say that Gregory Schneider is fond of familiar faces. A 1995 graduate of Sheboygan Falls High School, Schneider was raised in Sheboygan Falls where many of his family members still live. He worked as a summer school assistant in the district during college and did his student teaching there. He returned to work as a fourth grade teacher.
“I felt comfortable in a familiar community,“ he said about settling in Sheboygan Falls. “I like knowing or recognizing many of the people I see on a daily basis.”
He credits his K-12 education with preparing him well for college. He holds a bachelor’s degree in education from Lakeland University and a masters degree in educational technology from Marion College.
“My education at Sheboygan Falls prepared me for life by letting me connect to a variety of classes that helped me determine what my interest were and what I was good at,” Schneider explained. “Many of the educators showed an interest in my success in school.”
A high school psychology class was one of his favorites. Students were allowed to select which letter grade they would work to achieve and choose the assignments they needed to achieve their goal. Schneider also credits his psychology teacher, Lee McGlade, for teaching him “to look beyond the challenges and hard days to find the simple things in life and enjoy that.”
He finds teaching in the same school where he once was a student very rewarding and said the best parts of his job are the relationships he has developed with students, families and colleagues.
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