Sister Deanna Schroeder, SDS knows her four-year-old students will tell it like it is. It might be what she likes best about her preschool ministry at Milwaukee’s Mother of Good Counsel (MGC) Parish School.
“They just put it all out there,” says Sr. Deanna, “whatever is on their minds.” Those little minds can carry around some pretty heavy stuff. Many youngsters are from single-parent households, some even being raised by a grandparent. Sr. Deanna commends the school’s firm policy that each student have at least one committed adult to attend teacher conferences. She knows that parental involvement is vital to a child’s academic success, and that families must be fully accountable for students enrolled through Milwaukee’s voucher program.
Sr. Deanna (formerly Sr. Mary Eugene) is a classroom veteran, having taught primary grades for 30 years. As a first-year teacher in 1958, she had a class of more than 50 students.
“Teaching little children is my first love,” says Sr. Deanna. “When I could no longer do full-time ministry, I decided to check out MGC because it’s where I started teaching, it’s walking distance from home, and it’s a Salvatorian parish. This ministry lets me reach out to others and widen my world within the limitations of aging.”
In addition to her longtime teaching ministry, Sr. Deanna served 12 years as coordinator of Milwaukee’s Salvatorian Sisters Residence for Sisters of the Divine Savior who are retired from active ministry. She also served seven years with an outreach mission church in Kentucky, where she worked in the food bank and resale clothing store, delivered meals, and started a women’s support group. She recalls, “I did a lot of home visits, traveled through many beautiful ‘hollers’ and witnessed unbelievable poverty.”
Now Sr. Deanna devotes three mornings a week to three- and four-year-old preschool classes at MGC.
“I love watching the children grow and seeing the delight in their eyes when they master something new. They keep me laughing with their candid questions and innocent replies. And, they keep me well hugged.”