Carol Reichenberg began her teaching career in Broken Bow in 1977. This Friday she will bid a fond farewell to the school that has provided her income and fulfilled her passion for the past 34 years.
Carol is a native of North Platte, and says she knew from the time she was in 7th grade that she one day wanted to be a teacher. When she was in high school she helped as an aid in the special ed classroom, as she was thinking of going into that area. But it didn’t take long for her to realize her true passion was elementary kids.
After high school, Carol attended one year of junior college in North Platte before transferring to then Kearney State College, where she received her degree.
She became familiar with the Broken Bow school system when she student taught here while in college, working under Anna Mae Taylor at the time. Her husband, Wes, accepted a position as shop teacher at Broken Bow, so the couple moved here and Carol commuted back and forth to Kearney to finish school.
Fresh out of college she began teaching kindergarten in Broken Bow, and continued in that capacity for five years. She then moved to the 2nd grade classroom, and has been there ever since.
“I like working with the younger kids, because they are still excited about learning,” Carol says referring to her decision to stay in the lower elementary.
Unlike a lot of teachers, Carol says she really didn’t have one particular teacher who inspired her when she was young to choose that profession. However, she does come from a long family background of teachers.
Carol’s mother was also a teacher, and was teaching kindergarten in North Platte at the time Carol started teaching in Broken Bow. Her grandmother (mother’s mother) was also a teacher. Ironically, Carol’s mother-in-law was a kindergarten teacher as well when Carol began her career.
Carol’s daughter, Laurie, will continue that family legacy, becoming the fourth generation woman to teach. She is currently studying at UNL to be an elementary teacher.
Carol says she also has two nieces who teach, both at the 3rd grade level.
At this point, Carol says she doesn’t have any big plans for retirement, but knows she wants to stay right here.
“I like the small town. I just can’t imagine living in a big city!”
She says one change she has noticed in the young children since she began teaching, is that they are “more worldly” now. Kids at a younger age seem to have a better understanding of current events and the world around them, she says. And, of course, technology has changed everything. Even the youngest children are learning to navigate their way around the computer.
“I’m really going to miss the kids, and the people I work with,” Carol says as she pauses. “But now I’m going to shed my cocoon, spread my wings and get back out in the world!
“I had good years teaching in Broken Bow and raising our family here.”
Carol is actually a member of a large club of teachers who have been part of the Broken Bow Public School system for a long time. Retaining good teachers is something this district does well, and it is a virtue both school board members and administrators appreciate greatly.
Here is a look at those teachers currently employed at BBPS, and have been for 20 years or more.
Mike Garner - has taught a total of 22 years, 21 of them at Broken Bow.
Lonnie Koepke - has taught a total of 31 years, 22 at BBPS.
Paul Loomer - has taught a total of 30 years, all at BBPS.
Stephanie Meyer - has taught a total of 29 years, all at Broken Bow.
Bill Reichert - has been teaching 40 years, 37 at BBPS.
Bev Schwisow - has taught for 28 years, all of them at Broken Bow.
Jerry Scott - has been a teacher for 27 years, all of them at BBPS.
Zella Briggs - has taught a total of 30 years, all at Broken Bow.
Kirk Crawley - has been a teacher for 29 years, and has taught all of those at BBPS.
Julie Foster - has taught 25 years total, 19 at Broken Bow.
Mary Jane Garner - has taught all of her 26 years at Broken Bow Public Schools.
Jim Hartman - has taught a total of 34 years, 32 of them at Broken Bow.
Bonnie Hickman-Kamarad - has taught 30 of her 36 years at Broken Bow.
Mary Jo Peterson - has taught all of her 31 years at Broken Bow.
Diane Scott - has taught all of her 29 years at BBPS.
Shelly Jenkins - has been a teacher for 30 years, 25 of them in Broken Bow.
Karen Neth - has taught 30 of her 32 years at Broken Bow.
Wanda Russell - has been a teacher 23 years, and has been in Broken Bow 20 years.
Gary Meyer - has taught 29 of his 31 years at BBPS.
Kay Pierce - has spent her entire 27-year career at Broken Bow.
Other teachers who have been with the district a very long time include: Amy Kozeal - 17 of her 18 years teaching; and Stacie McMeen, who has spent all of her 17 years teaching at Broken Bow.
When asked what made her stay in Broken Bow her entire career, Carol said it was mainly because she just really liked the job.
She also credited the community for being a great place to live and raise a family.
Obviously this school district and community is doing something right. In a time when it seems many float from job to job at the drop of a hat, the fact that good teachers come here - and stay here - is something we can all be very proud of.