Principal Gayle Trachsel sees Rose Thoenen as “the glue that holds St. Peter Interparish School together.”
Eighth-grader Adam Winkelman described her as a strong Catholic role model and the “go-to” person for computers.
School parent Jill West called her “a true cornerstone of our school.”
Ms. Thoenen, technology coordinator at St. Peter Interparish School in Jefferson City, was one of 10 Catholic School educators throughout the United States to receive a “Lead. Learn. Proclaim.” Award this year from the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA).
The award puts a spotlight on teachers who have demonstrated a strong Catholic educational philosophy as well as exceptional ability, dedication and results.
The honorees, chosen from the more than 150,000 educators serving in the nation’s Catholic elementary and secondary schools, were recognized during the NCEA’s 2018 Convention & Expo, held April 3-5 in Cincinnati.
Ms. Thoenen has been part of the St. Peter Interparish School faculty since 1980.
“The most rewarding part of Catholic education is when past students tell you what an important part you played in their lives,” she told NCEA officials. “Receiving that positive reinforcement makes your day and gives you encouragement to continue to strive to be better.”
Students and fellow educators nominated Ms. Thoenen for the award.
“She proclaims her faith like St. Mother Teresa,” Mrs. Trachsel stated. “She is like a mother figure to all of us at St. Peter Interparish Catholic School. She proclaims her faith by all the little things she does to help our students.”
Mrs. West has interacted with Ms. Thoenen as a student, a fellow parishioner and now as a parent with a student currently attending the school.
“Because of Ms. Thoenen’s dedication and service to our school, church and community, we are stronger as a whole,” said Mrs. West. “As a student, colleague or parent, you just want to be better because of the positive example she continually demonstrates.”
Former students often drop-in to visit Ms. Thoenen. Mrs. Trachsel said she is like a walking dictionary and historian of St. Peter Interparish School.
She started out teaching fourth grade, moving two years later to junior-high while teaching computer classes part-time.
She taught physical education from 1995-2002 and served as the school’s athletic director from 1993-2000.
She returned to the classroom in 2002, teaching middle-school American history and earth science for eight years while helping her students develop technology skills.
She stayed in teaching part-time after becoming the school’s technology coordinator in 2010.
She has been focusing full-time on technology for the past five years. She keeps the school webpage up to date, creates and helps implement the computer curriculum, and maintains and arranges periodic upgrades to the computers, smartboards, projectors, DVD players and stereo systems.
The only way to lead
Amy Brauner, the middle school language arts teacher, said Ms. Thoenen has been a vital part of carrying out the school’s mission of “inspiring students to love God, their Catholic faith, and learning.”
“Rose leads by example,” Mrs. Brauner stated. “She always puts St. Peter Interparish School first, whether that be the students, faculty or staff.”
She’s always on the lookout for grants to apply for, as well as fun new ways to use technology to engage the students.
“She is always helping us learn what’s new in the technology world,” Mrs. Brauner noted.
Mrs. West said Ms. Thoenen leads by pushing herself, her colleagues and her students to keep working at improving.
“She uses her expertise to ensure that opportunities are available for students and teachers to grow in their understanding of technology,” she said.
This gives her students a clear advantage when they move on to high school.
Mrs. Trachsel said much of what Ms. Thoenen does to help keep the school running smoothly does not get noticed.
“She doesn’t seek recognition or thanks but does everything for the glory of God,” Mrs. Trachsel said. “She has the gift of encouraging students in their faith and carrying out the Church’s ministry. She does it because she cares about St. Peter Interparish School and cares about the students and families she is serving.”
Curious and motivated, she’s always learning and is eager to help her fellow educators solve problems and come up with creative ideas.
“If there is a problem or a way to make something better, Rose will go out of her way to figure out how to do that,” said Mrs. Trachsel.
“Always there to help”
Ms. Thoenen was instrumental in the development and use of two mobile, laptop computer carts with Wi-Fi capabilities that are available to move from classroom to classroom as needed by students.
“What we now have are two, fully equipped computer carts with Wi-Fi capabilities that can be brought in any classroom or accessed by students in the library,” said Phyllis Struemph, junior-high math and science teacher.
She called Ms. Thoenen “a person of high personal and professional standards who demonstrates the best qualities of a Catholic educator.”
“Her focus is always to help provide the best learning experience available for our students,” she added.
Ms. Thoenen coached junior-high volleyball for 20 years and still serves as pianist and co-director of the grade-school choir.
She helped start the annual school musical and has served as co-director for over 30 years.
“Ms. Thoenen is always there to help staff and students with their computer problems and answer questions,” said Adam.
“She is a great model of faith and encourages us to make good choices and decisions,” he said. “She is always there to help out in church, the school play, and in the classroom.”