Profile In Dedication – Susan Fischesser
Susan Fischesser has taught at St. Gertrude School for over 20 years, having started in 1986. She has educated over 1,000 students and has seen countless changes. Susan is retiring this summer. We asked her if she would share some thoughts from her time in our school community.
When did you know you wanted to be a teacher?
I knew I wanted to be a teacher when I was in the eighth grade. We were given a writing assignment to write about what we wanted to be when we were grown up. I wrote about wanting to be a teacher and never changed my mind.
What brought you to St. Gertrude School?
My husband and I moved to Madeira in 1976. We attended various Catholic churches and, when our oldest son was born, we became members of St. Gertrude Parish. Both of our boys attended St. Gertrude School. When our youngest started first grade, I became a substitute teacher at St. Gertrude. I did that for four years when an opening became available in the fourth grade. I applied for the position and now, 22 years later, I am getting ready to retire from that position.
As an educator in the intermediate grades, what is your greatest joy and biggest challenge?
One of the greatest joys you can have as a teacher is seeing the light go on when a child finally understands a concept. I have had parents tell me that something I taught in fourth grade helped their child later in their education. Teaching also has its challenges. One I think is the need to keep a child’s attention. Television and
video games have made this more difficult. Children are so accustomed to things changing every few minutes that their attention span has decreased. They need to be entertained all the time.
What are some of the biggest changes you have seen in Catholic education through the years?
Children are no longer expected to sit in a desk all day. More movement makes for a more alert child. Technology is one of the biggest changes — grades are completed on a computer, not with a calculator. Smartboards bring the information right to them. Students are very proficient using computers.
Name three of the most influential people you have known in your 20+ years at St. Gertrude. Why?
I feel that everyone I have worked with has influenced me in some way. Fellow teachers have shared their ideas with me, office staff has kept me organized, and the administration has guided me.
What is in store for Susan Fischesser as you transition?
A year ago, when we were attending our grandson’s preschool Christmas program, my husband and I discussed retiring so we would be able to attend more events like that one without having to take personal days. That is my first priority in retirement — family. I also hope to substitute and volunteer at St. Gertrude.
Then, there is always the cluttered basement to clean, books to read, and rediscovering needlework.
What advice would you have for a young undergraduate student considering becoming a teacher?
My advice would be to learn the virtue of patience. If you can be patient and understanding, everything else falls into place. You also need to be flexible because things change all the time. There are probably other words of wisdom, but one that I remember from a workshop years ago is — read to your class every day. I
have tried to do that as often as I can.