Lessons in Learning - Tolle

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Originally from Nekoosa, Laura Tolle’s top priorities in life today are her family, which includes her husband and their seven children, and her career as an educator at St. Mary’s School in Bloomington.

“When I graduated from [the University of Wisconsin-Platteville], I had a degree in Mechanical Engineering. I worked at James River in Green Bay as a Maintenance Project Engineer. I planned on designing and repairing paper machines for a few years. However, God had other plans for my life. I met Darren Tolle,” she told her story leading up to her career at St. Mary’s.

“When Darren and I were first married, we worked together on his dairy farm outside of Mount Hope. Soon we had a baby. Darren could see that I wasn’t fully happy with living on the dairy farm day in and day out. We found an advertisement for a part-time music teacher for Prairie Catholic Schools. I began teaching music two days a week for Prairie Catholic. I discovered that I really enjoyed working with children. Each day, the students and I learned more about ourselves, the world around us, and our faith.

“As the years went on and more children were added to our family, I began to look closer to home. St. Mary’s School had an opening for a one-day a week Music teacher. It was perfect.

“As my children have grown, I wanted to work more. My position at St. Mary’s changed into physical education and music teacher. Then, after earning my teacher’s license, I began teaching full-time.”

Tolle’s classroom in the morning is filled with reading, spelling, phonics and math for third and fourth grade students. The afternoons are started with fifth through eighth grade math and then social studies and science for third and fourth graders. The day is concluded with music class and preparation for the next day.

“Teaching is fun,” Tolle exclaimed. “Each day is a fresh start.” She, for the past 16 years of her employment at St. Mary’s, has enjoyed being able to share God with others at the school, while working with great teachers and staff.

“I try to integrate Catholic religious teachings across the curriculum. I enjoy working with children and preteens. I enjoy looking for innovative ways to challenge the students to apply their learning,” she added.

“I especially enjoy preparing the students for the Christmas program. Their performance is a Christmas gift to their families and the community. On the evening of the performance, the students’ eyes are full of excitement and joy. They always do a great job of sharing the story of Jesus’ birth and singing the sacred Christmas carols,” Tolle described one of her favorite events of the school year.

Some of her favorite memories from her time teaching include the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe on Dec. 12, where “students retell the story of the Virgin Mary appearing to Juan Diego in Mexico,” and daily morning prayer, which she described as, “a beautiful experience praying with each other. It feels as if God is gently reminding us we are not alone.”

Teaching is not all full of thrills though, as Tolle must deal with not enough hours in the day to complete all that wishes she could, along with stacks of paperwork.

The children, teachers, families, community, school and Jesus inspire Tolle to continue coming back each year. In the future, her plans are full of both teaching and learning.

“Life is a journey,” reminded Tolle. “Have an open mind, be ready to learn and be flexible.”

Along with educating students, Tolle is involved with the St. Mary’s religious education program for grades first through sixth, the American Legion Auxillary Post Liscum Brothers of Bagley, St. John’s Church in Patch Grove, the Mount Hope Cardinals 4-H Club and the Bloomington Public Library Summer Story Hour.

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