St. Francis School is happy to announce our new Kindergarten teacher, Amanda Gates. Amanda is a new face to our community. She grew up in Marion, Illinois (far southern part of Illinois, near Kentucky) and attended college at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (near St. Louis, Missouri) where she graduated this last May. While attending college she met her (now) husband, who was originally from Arkansaw, Wisconsin. After graduation, they decided to move back to the Arkansaw area to her husband’s family’s crop farm.
What are you looking forward to most this year?
I student taught in a 4th-grade classroom so I’m really looking forward to this new and exciting adventure in Kindergarten. I’m eager to see the students’ growth through the year and their excitement to learn. It will be great fun to experience learning together with them.
What do you enjoy to do in your spare time?
I love doing anything outside; fishing, kayaking, and riding the four-wheeler. And during any long weekends or holidays, I enjoy traveling back home to visit my family.
What’s your favorite color? Pink
What’s your favorite season? Fall
What’s your favorite food? Ice cream - Strawberry ice cream to be exact.
What’s your favorite children’s book? The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
Please join us in giving Amanda a warm welcome! We feel very blessed to have her join our school family here!
St. Francis School is happy to announce that Kathy Swanson will be returning to our school family as our new 5th-grade teacher. Many know Kathy from her years as our 4YK teacher before she retired in 2016. She wasn’t retired for long before she was back to help fulfill a few long-term sub positions.
Why did you decide to come back to permanent teaching after retiring?
Truthfully, I missed being here! After my last long-term sub position in 4YK last spring, I was actually sad and missing everyone at St. Francis.
What are you looking forward to the most with teaching 5th grade?
I really look forward to teaching these kids again…they are a great class! I was their first teacher here in 4YK, and I’m very excited to be with them as they complete their final year here at St. Francis. I really enjoy helping students prepare for middle school. I found when I taught 5th grade in White Bear Lake (prior to when I came to St. Francis), increased responsibility and independence play a big part in success as students leave elementary school.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I love traveling with my husband and spending time with my 9 grandkids. My favorite hobby is watercolor and acrylic painting.
What’s your favorite subject?
Language Arts…writing in particular.
What’s your favorite color?
Orange and pink…I can’t pick just one!
What’s your favorite food?
For healthy food, I would pick caprese salad. For comfort food, I would pick garlic chicken pizza.
Please join us in giving Kathy a great big “welcome back”! We couldn’t be more thrilled to have her here again!
St. Francis Church has had the honor of hosting a seminarian, Joe Richards, since early February for a three month internship. Mr. Richards is originally from La Crosse. After high school he studied at St. Mary's University in Winona, MN, finishing with a degree in philosophy. Shortly after graduating from SMU, Joe started working with the Fellowship of Catholic University Students in Duluth, MN, where he served as a campus missionary for three years. It was in leading college students in discipleship and on several mission trips that Joe felt drawn to go deeper still in ministry, leading him ultimately to come back home and study as a seminarian for the Diocese of La Crosse. He is now in his third year of studies at Mundelein Seminary in Chicago.
During his time here at St. Francis he is focused on several church ministries; religious education, jail ministry, and homebound visits. He has also been available to spend a lot of time with the students at the school. “I spend about 30-45 minutes with each class, each week.” Richards says, “my main purpose with the students is to be a positive male role model, form relationships, and be there for whatever they might need.” Not only does Mr. Richards spend time in the classroom, he also eats lunch with the students each day. “The kids definitely have a lot of stories to share.”
Mr. Richards shares how important the ‘Ministry of presence’ is and how he rarely has a planned topic to discuss with the students. “I let the students lead the conversation, and while some topics are more lighthearted we’ve had some really heavy topics as well, such as when Marlee passed away and then the death of the Middle School student in River Falls last week. We also have a question box at school, ‘Questions for the Seminarian’, that students are welcome to drop questions in - and several students have.” Mr. Richards has also spent time with the students doing Stations of the Cross, tours of the church, and training students for liturgical roles at the Wednesday school Mass.
In his remaining time at St. Francis, Mr. Richards has agreed to write a few articles sharing about his adventures with the students. We look forward to sharing his articles soon.
St. Francis Alumni
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