Rich Heritage Draws Alumni Back
Not all schools can boast a rich heritage of 175 years. St. Paul’s Lutheran School is the oldest continually operating elementary school in Indiana. Because of their long history, there are family and church ties that go back several generations, even among today’s teachers and students.
Carla Kleinschmidt’s family boasts four generations at the school, with Carla filling the position of admissions counselor and her daughter, Megan Koenemann, working as a second grade teacher.
“When my daughter graduated, this was the only school she wanted to be at. She worked as an aide until it was the right time. We encouraged her to apply to different schools and different places. This is where she wanted to be.”
Carla, who’s been working in admissions since 2012, says the teachers at St. Paul’s have left an impact on students and many have returned to work for the school.
“I think we have such loving and caring teachers that leave such fond memories with us that we want to return that to students,” Carla says. “I really liked my sixth grade teacher, Mr. Kalbfleisch. He told me I had the best handwriting. For that one moment I was special and unique. We still have teachers like that today. I think we feel comfortable here, cared for and secure. It still happens.”
Mary Hathaway, first grade teacher who retired this year, says she received such an excellent education that she wanted to create that same experience for students.
“One reason I came back, I felt I was richly blessed with my own education here, she says. “I wanted my children to experience that and I wanted to formulate that for my own teaching too.”
Part of the success is having a staff that works together well. Several of the teachers noted how much they appreciated their colleagues’ support.
Jenny Wade, science and computer teacher says, “I love the community and support. On a daily basis there are things that come up and you can go to any teacher and ask for help.”
Jenny notes that when she applied for the job, she already knew many of the staff and teachers from her experience here as a student.
“St. Paul’s needed a seventh grade science teacher. I came in and dropped off a resume and it was the same secretary. It was definitely God’s way of saying ‘you need to be back here.’”
St. Paul’s creates a family atmosphere in the school—a loving and supportive community where everyone is working to create an excellent education.
“We still consider ourselves a family.” Carla says. “Our whole mission is to spread God’s word. If we bring new families from the outside, we are spreading it to new families. This is a good place for families.”
But the location has appeal for the teachers and students alike. The downtown boasts rich learning opportunities, from museums to theatrical events.
“It’s an urban location and a lot of people would say it’s not ideal.” Mary notes. “This really allows us to do a lot. We go to plays, the Tincaps, the downtown library, and swimming lessons at the YMCA. These are things other schools wouldn’t have access to without a drive.”
But ultimately, it’s having the experience of a good education that brings each of these staff members back.