St. Patrick School teachers retire this weekTwo St. Patrick School teachers are retiring at the end of the school year. Fourth-grade teacher Marg Wopat and second-grade teacher Teresa Cari are officially ending their careers when students leave for summer break Thursday.
By: Doug Stohlberg, Hudson Star-Observer
Two St. Patrick School teachers are retiring at the end of the school year. Fourth-grade teacher Marg Wopat and second-grade teacher Teresa Cari are officially ending their careers when students leave for summer break Thursday.
Wopat has taught 30 years at St. Pat’s, while Cari was at the school from 1975 to 1978 and, after a stint to raise her family, returned and has taught the past 12 years.
Wopat has been a teacher for the past 40 years, including 30 at St. Pat’s. She began her career in Platteville and Cedarburg before her family moved to Minneapolis and she taught at Transfiguration School in St. Paul. Those three jobs completed the first 10 years of her teaching career.
Desiring to get back to Wisconsin, the Wopats moved to Hudson and Marg began her 30-year stint at St. Patrick School.
“We have loved living in Hudson, and St. Pat’s has been a wonderful place to teach,” Wopat said. “The school, of course, has seen tremendous growth since the time I started.”
When Wopat began teaching, the school did not offer kindergarten and had no preschool. Many of the classes were taught by nuns.
“Basically we had just one classroom for each grade,” Wopat said. “We added kindergarten in 1980-81 and the other grades have also increased dramatically.”
The school currently has just under 400 students and offers education through eighth grade.
Wopat is especially excited about teaching Wisconsin history and social studies.
“It is fun to see the students’ interest grow during the year. They start to understand how these issues affect their lives.”
She said fourth grade is a big transition year for students.
“Fourth grade is a big year to take on responsibility,” Wopat said. “I see a huge change from the beginning of the year to the end of the year.”
As far as kids are concerned, the biggest change Wopat has seen over the years is the amount of demands on kids’ time.
“It used to be that kids maybe had one night of activities – now they are so busy,” Wopat said. “Now they might be involved four nights a week. It can be a good thing, but it puts a lot more pressure on the kids. They definitely have to plan their time and balance activities with homework.”
Because St. Patrick School is a parochial school, Wopat also is involved in the spiritual growth of students.
“It is wonderful to be involved in the spiritual part of students’ lives. At our school it seems like we are all a big family. We have great parent involvement and we all care for each other.”
As far as her retirement plans go, Wopat said she will “play it by ear.”
She enjoys golf, warm weather, gardening, traveling and playing cards.
“This will be a big transition in my life. I hope to do some substitute teaching – that will help me ease into it.”
Wopat and her husband, Ben, live in North Hudson and have three adult sons, Alexander, Nathaniel and Zachary.
Cari actually was away from teaching this past year, but is just now officially retiring after spending the previous 12 years at St. Patrick School.
Cari began her career at St. Pat’s, teaching there from 1975 to 1978. Before coming to Hudson she also taught one year at St. Andrew’s Catholic School in Elk River, Minn. Originally from Minneapolis, she found her way to Hudson when she married her husband, Sam.
She also has seen steady growth during her stint at St. Pat’s.
“I was there for the opening of the new addition in 2002 – I was fortunate to be a part of that.”
Cari sees the advantage of a smaller school, including the closeness of teachers, students and parents.
“We have great parent involvement. My job has been so rewarding and fun.”
An enjoyable part of her teaching has been the opportunity to educate children of some of her first students.
“In the last several years, I’ve started to see the children of some of my students from my first stint of teaching in the 1970s,” Cari said.
She has also seen students with much more active lives in recent years.
“Students are so much more active in organized activities. It can be good, but sometimes it can be too much.”
She also sees a much more technologically savvy group of second-graders.
“They are actually much more educated because of technology and they know so much about the technology itself,” Cari said. “They often learn things we didn’t learn until high school. Sometimes second-graders can help me with certain technological issues.”
Cari is also involved in the spiritual growth of her students. She assists with the preparations of Reconciliation (the sacrament of penance) and First Communion.
“I don’t regret my decision to retire, but I know I will miss the teachers, staff and especially the kids,” Cari said. “I love to see my students when I’m out and about in the community and love to see and read about their wonderful accomplishments.”
In retirement, Cari hopes to do some golfing, biking, boating, reading and traveling. It won’t be all play, however, as she plans to take care of grandchildren and spends time with her mother in Bloomington, Minn.
Cari and her husband, Sam, have four adult children, Dan, Katy, Ryan and Sam.