Laurie Majerus, retiring after 30 years. Photo courtesy of Kathy Salber.
As students prepare to hang up their backpacks for summer, St. Michael's School's Laurie Majerus is also preparing for a break of her own. After 30 years of teaching, Majerus will retire at the end of the school year. Most of her talent has been shared with first graders, but during her career she has also taught preschool, kindergarten, second and third grade students at St. Michael’s.
As Majerus makes plans to enter a new stage of her life, she reflected on the things she valued most about teaching over the last three decades, saying,
"I love all of the kids--it's great to see the progress they make from the time they walk in the door in August to the time they leave in May. I cherish the family-like atmosphere at St. Michael's and the friendships I developed."
Teaching first graders for the majority of her tenure meant lots of laughter, but Majerus notes that seeing the kids discover that they could read was one of the most rewarding experiences with the age group.
Thirty years in the classroom undoubtedly meant experiences too numerous to mention, but one of the standouts for the veteran teacher involved seeing the kids' excitement during a yearly science unit called Caterpillars to Butterflies.
"We watched as the caterpillars became a chrysalis and then a butterfly. The release was always bittersweet." St. Michael's Principal, Lisa Schumacher, has nothing but praise for Majerus, saying, "Her engaging classroom activities offered students variety in instructional methods and a personal education that met the individual needs of her students. In her classroom, students felt confident enough to take risks and make mistakes without losing self-esteem." Majerus' passion for teaching was not lost on those around her, and in 2010, she was awarded the Rural Archdiocesan Teacher of the Year, a prestigious honor that recognizes teachers who display strong personal commitment to Catholic education and their extraordinary service to their students and school.
Schumacher adds, "As our school motto states, Mrs. Majerus has created Leaders of the World & Followers of Christ."
Although Majerus will be greatly missed, St. Michael's is happy to have Elgin resident Ashley Bacon step up to the plate next school year. Bacon received her Bachelor of Science degree in early childhood education in December of 2014 from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and is excited for her first teaching experience at St. Michael's.
"There are a few things I'm anxious about. However, the welcome I have received from St. Michael's and the community has helped alleviate a lot of that anxiety."
Originally from Lyons, NE, Bacon said she knew going into her undergraduate study that teaching was for her.
"I have to commend the small, rural school and community I grew up in for having such a great influence on my decision to pursue a career in education. The experiences I had as a student were a reflection of my personal values: respect, relationships, and community, which is exactly what I want for the students who enter my classroom."
While Bacon has some mighty shoes to fill, she's determined. "My greatest goal is to get twenty-one first graders prepared to be twenty-one second graders! I am looking forward to great school year and I am thrilled to be teaching at St. Michael's."
Ashley Bacon will begin her first teaching job this August.