Readers reminisce about their favorite teachers

Categories: Guest Views

August 29, 2014, edition

Twelve people across the diocese sent reminiscences of a teacher who’d had the most impact on them. Many religious were remembered for their patience, kindness, values and piety. Several named a teacher who inspired them to follow the teaching profession themselves. Three of the comments are published here; all are included on The Visitor website at


Franciscan Sister Reingundis Bauer (later on Sister Renee) was my second grade teacher at St. Francis Academy, Hankinson, N.D. So patient, kind and understanding with all the students, she made me feel God’s love and that everything was for the greater honor and glory of God. She prepared me for first confession and holy Communion and taught me about our Blessed Virgin Mary and the crowning of her as May Queen, the Queen of Heaven, our Mother. Sister Renee came from Germany when she was around 21 years old and lived to about age 91, teaching elementary most of her years. She retired to St Francis Convent [in Hankinson, N.D.]a few years where she had a simple, small room. When I visited her she said she was very happy in her humble, quiet life to just be with her Jesus. She gave me her worn rosary case which has protected my rosary in my purse. When she died I know she went to heaven and watches over her beautiful, earthly children.

Lois Cline
Battle Lake

Note from Franciscan Sisters in Hankinson: Often children could not pronounce Reingundis, s she was often addressed as “Sister Mygoodness.”


While attending Cathedral High School in the early 1940s, God blessed me with the friendship of Benedictine Sister Madelon Roberge. This saintly nun instilled in me a plethora of values that have greatly impacted my entire adult life: the value of hard work, self-denial, love for the poor, detachment from material goods, mortification and, above all, steadfast trust in and love for God. These principles have guided my choices in marriage, family size, children’s education and financial expenditures. Because of her wise counsel my life, for the greater part, has been stress- and worry-free and filled with joy.

Martha (Rupp) Gaetz
1943 Cathedral High School, St. Cloud


The teacher who had the most effect on my life until the age of 40 was my high school algebra teacher, Lucille Oliver, at Princeton High School. She taught me to do the next right thing for others in my life. The teacher with the most impact after that was Frank Morrisey, Oblate of Mary Immaculate. He taught me that I do not have to know everything — I just need to know where to look it up. While he was referring to Canon Law, I find this very useful in all areas of my life.

Ruth DuHamel, JCL
Oak Park


My favorite teacher was Mrs. gillie Schaefer in third grade at St. John Cantius in St. Cloud in 1960. She was the first lay teacher that I had, which made me realize that a lay person could be a teacher too. I’d only had nuns for teacher before that time. She was funny and patient, but firm. When we had to dress a doll as what we wanted to be when we grew up, I dressed mine as a teacher. Fourteen years later, I was an elementary teacher, just like my favorite teacher, Mrs. Schaefer. I still correspond with her. She is 100 years old and going strong.

 Diane Dinndorf Friebe
Two Harbors, Minn.


When I think of my many teachers through the years, I measure their impact by how they made their subject come alive and helped it take root in my life. For me, the most notable example is Benedictine Father Dale Launderville, professor of theology at St. John’s University. His transparency as a teacher allowed him to focus not on himself but rather on his subject: Hebrew Scripture. To this day, when I read or pray Psalm 8, I am mindful of his wonder at this psalm. This has been an ongoing gift in my life.

Maureen Otremba


My second grade teacher, Sister Maribeth Theis, was my favorite teacher [in school in Lastrup]. She always had a smile on her face, was full of kindness and patience. Sister Maribeth was always waiting to greet us each day. She made learning fun and exciting. She taught me the sacraments of reconciliation and first Communion. I have a strong faith because of her. I wanted to grow up to be just like her, so I became an elementary teacher [and now teach at Holy Trinity School, Pierz]. I try to be to my students the great example that she was to me.

Kelly Gangl


I was very fortunate to have Benedictine Sister Madonna Niebolte as my fifth, sixth and seventh grade teacher at St. Anthony Grade School in St. CloudShe loved teaching and made it fun to learn. She was kind and caring and had a cute little smile that crept across her face. She came into my life when I was young and helped to shape me into a “child of God,” as she would say. She still remains in my life today. She is so kind and giving, taking care of the older sisters so lovingly. I still turn to her for prayers when my life meets difficult times. I thank God everyday for her strength and wisdom,

Sandy Furstenburg Klaers
St. Cloud


It was back in the 1940s, in a one-room schoolhouse in St. Wendel where I met my favorite teacher, Margaret Wunderlich (Huls). I remember her gentleness and the pretty smile she wore while teaching us all the things we needed to know to pass the county exams in the spring. And, I recall the beautiful handwriting she had, which I always tried to imitate.

My decision to become a teacher was largely due to Margaret’s chapter in my life. As a great teacher, she taught us to “only do the right and to love goodness and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8b).

Lorrayne Traut
Sauk Centre


In 1936, Benedictine Sister Jane Francis Fischer taught second grade [at St. Anthony Grade School] with a kind but firm discipline. Each of 40 students was special and a concern for her. She was very helpful in our lives, encouraging us to study. If we did well on our tests, we would be rewarded with a reading of a captivating story last period every Friday. We learned the love of reading and this reward gave us the incentive to study. Three classmates (now age 90+) still keep in contact by writing, reminiscing and remembering her. Entering seventh grade we were elated to find our teacher was Sister Jane Francis.

Mary Mix


It was almost 70 years ago that my mother brought me to my first day of school at a two-room schoolhouse in St. Anthony (rural Albany). She told the teacher, Joan (Pratchner) Krebs, that I couldn’t write my name, alphabet or numbers because I was left-handed. [The teacher] told my mother not to try and change me, that she would teach me. I also did not speak English, only German, but she also spoke German.

Mildred (Heinen) Nienaber


All the teachers I had in Catholic and public schools were great, but two nuns stand out. First, Sister Benedictine Ann Arceneau was fresh out of the convent, and her first “gig” was in 1953 at SS. Peter and Paul Parish in Elrosa. It was the first year the school opened, after being built. I was in third grade and if it wasn’t for Sister Ann, I’d probably be I jail today. Second, a small, very frail nun, Benedictine Sister Eileen Juba, was the fifth and sixth grade teacher. I really liked her discipline tactics. Back in the 1950s, we seldom had candy. She would say, “Eugene, if you don’t talk or misbehave all day, I’ll give you a candy bar.” You can bet I was quiet as a church mouse! My hat goes off to all teachers that I had during my 12 years of schooling.

Gene Loxtercamp
Sauk Centre