Classmates realize dream of teaching together

Categories: Around the Diocese,Catholic Schools Week 2015

By Dianne Towalski
The Visitor

As high school students, Nicole Stemper and Rebekah Mullin taught Sunday school together at what was then SS. Peter, Paul and Michael School in St. Cloud.

The two had graduated from the school a few years earlier, and they talked about how they would teach elementary school together there when they “grew up.” They even picked the rooms where they would teach: the ones for third grade.

After a few years apart to attend college and start their teaching careers, the two are back together. They have teamed up to teach third grade at All Saints Academy, formerly SS. Peter, Paul and Michael School.

They are best friends, plan classes together and spend time with each other outside of school. “Nicki and I work so well together,” Mullin said. “The kids definitely pick up on it, the fact that two teachers really work well together.”

“And enjoy the job,” Stemper added.

“It’s just fun to have them for our teachers,” said Stella Ortega, one of their third-grade students.


Rebekah Mullin, left, and Nicole Stemper are third-grade teachers at All Saints Academy in St. Cloud. Photo by Dianne Towalski/The Visitor

Amanda Gjerde, principal of All Saints Academy, said the two women “have a lot to offer — their youth, their , left,enthusiasm and an outlook on education that is different because of different generations that are here in the building.

“It’s really nice to have that freshness from them. They keep things light and interesting,” she said.

Stemper and Mullin even have a signal — a certain whistle — so they can find each other in the building. “I’ll be walking through the hall and often I’ll hear it,” Gjerde said. “One will be upstairs and the other one will answer from downstairs.”

The fact that they are now working with some people who were once their teachers is a little disconcerting, they said. “It takes a little bit of time to get over that, but it’s fun [to work with them],” Mullin said.

“There are many, many teachers here that taught us, and it’s very difficult for me to call them by their first names,” Mullin said.
As students, Stemper and Mullin experienced the benefits of a Catholic school education: faith-based learning in a small classroom with a lot of one-on-one attention.

“I think the one-on-one attention and the unique experiences that I had as a student, all K through 12, set the bar high for what I need to do now as a teacher and what my students expect of me, ” Mullin said. “I feel like I have unique teaching opportunities here and a tighter-knit classroom.”

They agree that their experiences at SS. Peter, Paul and Michael School through middle school and later in high school — both graduated in 2005, Stemper from Cathedral in St. Cloud and Mullin from St. John’s Prep in Collegeville — help them to be good examples for their students. “I think it probably comes pretty easy for both Nicki and I to be that example of what it means to lead a faith-filled life,” Mullin said.

“We had that example when we were in elementary school,” Stemper added.

Gjerde said the women’s experience is a testament to the positive school environment they experienced.
“That people create those friendships and those bonds that carry through, it’s really nice to see,” she said.