Thursday, June 5, 2014

Open Letter to Neenah Joint School District

Dear Neenah Joint School District Administrators, Teachers, and Staff,

Graduation is less than five hours away, but before I watch Emily cross that stage and receive her diploma, I'd like to take a moment to publicly acknowledge and thank the people who helped make Emily's Neenah experience such a positive one.

We moved to Wisconsin smack dab in the middle of Emily's 5th grade year.  Lucky for us, we found a house where the neighborhood kids had the privilege of attending Clayton Elementary.  I can't say enough about the fabulous job Kim Benson and the rest of the staff did welcoming Emily (and the rest of my kids) into the Clayton family.  Kim Gregory, one of the hardest working teachers in the district, helped Emily find a place in her dynamic classroom.  Terry Walotka spent a whole bunch of  time making sure Emily was challenged academically. Cheryl Miller embraced our avid reader and offered her a place to volunteer and help out. Clayton is an incredibly special place, filled to the brim with great teachers and staff.

The transition to middle school can be tricky, but the Argonaut teachers made it smooth and painless.  Emily completely loved being an Argonaut.  Janet Macklin is a rock star in our house (all three kids loved her!), and Jennifer Merritt will always hold a special place in Emily's heart. Jeff Martis and Brian Guilbeau love teaching, and Emily could tell.  We still talk about discussions that took place in Jim Kuenster's classes. Mr. Kuenster is definitely the reason that Emily gets asked to edit her friends' papers all the time (hooray for grammar!). Shattuck Middle School is home to many excellent, dedicated teachers who helped Emily enjoy her middle school experience.

Emily's past four years at Neenah High School have been nothing short of amazing. She was lucky to have many teachers who took an interest in her successes both in and out of the classroom. She had teachers who would meet her at the crack of dawn to go over problems and others who would answer questions via text long after work hours ended.  She had teachers who made her laugh and a couple who made her cry.   She was pushed out of her comfort zone more than once, and she became a better person as a result.  Emily took classes that challenged the way she saw the world and found activities that helped her develop leadership skills. Oftentimes, we don't know what kind of impact we have on people.  It is my sincere hope that Diane Underhill, Rich Frost, and Dianne Pacolt know what a difference they made in Emily's life.  All three teachers went above and beyond for Emily.  They are once-in-a-lifetime teachers: teachers who love teaching kids and are passionate about the subjects they teach.  Outside of the classroom, Carrie Raeth spent a tremendous amount of time coaching Emily during her four years as a member of the swim team. She helped Emily become a better swimmer and a better leader.  Aaron Hoffman taught Emily a whole new set of skills and helped her find a home in Pickard.  Brian Wunderlich and Nate Werner helped make Emily's senior year even better by bringing their infectious enthusiasm to Neenah High School.  Both men live and breathe the motto, "Neenah, with pride."

Tonight Emily will complete her career as a Neenah Rocket.  What a ride it has been!  Thank you, Neenah Joint School District administrators, teachers, and staff, for all you did to help prepare her for her future.  I know that Emily will always look back on her time in the district with pride.


Vicki Terlap

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