Krueger retires still loving what he doesThe Hudson Middle School is losing a very familiar face at the end of this school with the retirement of guidance counselor Lynn Krueger.
By: Meg Heaton, Hudson Star-Observer
The Hudson Middle School is losing a very familiar face at the end of this school with the retirement of guidance counselor Lynn Krueger.
Krueger’s career in the Hudson School District began in 1976, his first teaching job after graduating from Bemidji State University in Minnesota. He and his wife, CeCe, a teacher in Baldwin, had never been to Hudson or western Wisconsin before the move here, having grown up in southwestern Minnesota. But he said they fell in love with the place almost immediately.
“It just seemed like a good fit from the start and it has been a great place to live and work and raise a family,” said Krueger.
Over the years Krueger taught physical education, health, social studies, economics and psychology at the secondary level. In 1994 he earned a master’s degree in counseling and moved into a new phase of his career with the opening of the new Hudson Middle School in 1996.
While he liked teaching, the role of counselor has been a good fit. “When you are in the classroom, you are really tied to the clock. Everything has to be on a schedule. But this is different. It’s working with kids and teachers and parents and helping them work through things. I really like that.”
Krueger says the middle school years are a time of change — not just for students but for their parents as well.
“I tell parents to prepare for a three-year ride. In sixth grade, their son or daughter will still greet them with ‘hi, Mom’ and tell you about their day. But by eighth grade it is a different story and they’re not so thrilled to have you around, let alone share much with you. They go from dependence to independence but the truth is, they still really need the adults in their lives.”
Krueger said middle-schoolers have issues and the ones he has dealt with most involve either academics or social problems. “When it comes to their studies, the problem is often motivation. They usually have the ability but struggle with follow-through. On the social side of things, it is about fitting in, making new friends and losing old ones and all the drama associated with growing up. Some kids it just washes over; others really struggle.”
Krueger says his role is to act as the “go-between” whether that is between students and teachers, teachers and parents, student and parents or students and students. “I kind of work the middle and help find some balance in whatever issue we’re dealing with. And a lot of it is just having someone to vent to in a private setting with someone who won’t blow them off.”
A big part of a counselor’s job centers on trust and Krueger said word of mouth among students is pretty powerful. That said, he always lets students know that he will contact parents and other authorities when it comes to serious issues of safety and well being.
“And they seem to get that. Often they already know what’s going to happen when they come to talk and they want what is best just like we do.”
On an average day Krueger said he sees between five and 10 students with after lunch being his busiest time. He says his time is pretty evenly divided between girls and boys, despite the stereotype that there’s more drama with girls. Regardless of who he is working with, it is all about a plan — steps that the student and Krueger identify as a way to address the problem.
Krueger believes the biggest problems faced by his students all center around those kids who are 13 but are trying to pretend they are 18. “They end up in places they shouldn’t be, with older kids they try to imitate and in situations they aren’t equipped to handle. Those can be tough situations and parents need to be involved.”
Complicating an already challenging time are things like Facebook, e-mail and cyberbullying via the Internet. The problems they create are relatively new on the middle school campus but he believes they will increase and spread over time. It is an issue parents and the school will need to work on together.
In his experience, “kids will tell” when it comes to serious issues. “They don’t want anything bad to happen any more than we do and the rumor mill gets the word around pretty fast. And that’s when 16 years of built up trust can be important. They come in and want to do the right thing.”
Krueger said that despite the middle school being over capacity, the building is a good one to work in because of its leadership and staff and the mission they share. “From the top down, everyone here goes out of their way to keep track of kids. This is our business – to do what’s right for kids.”
When it comes to advice as he prepares to leave, it’s clear Krueger has practiced what he preaches.
To students, he says don’t be in a hurry to grow up. “Be a kid, be 13, be with other 13-year-olds and enjoy it…and don’t check your brain at the door. Look out for your friends and have friends that will look out for you.”
To parents, he says to keep talking, talking, talking. “Even if they don’t seem to be listening, keep talking anyway because if you don’t, somebody else will.” He recommends a trick his wife used. “Take them for a ride in the car — a captive audience and you control the radio.”
To new counselors, he recommends flexibility and cultivating good listening skills, whether with students, parents or teachers.
He says a lot of what he does on the job came from his experience as dad to three sons, Adam, Brady and Scott. “I was like everybody else. You don’t always know where your kids are headed but eventually they hit 21 even though it doesn’t seem like it when they are 12.”
Krueger said he doesn’t have any concrete plans for his retirement but he’s “not done yet.” What form that will take he isn’t sure but he’s ”not going to say no to anything.” They are words to live by no matter what your age.
Krueger and other retirees will be honored by the Hudson School District and the Board of Education at a dinner in May.