I am very lucky. I had a unique and wonderful experience for my early educational years.
My father was a Lutheran minister in a town of about 1,000 people and I attended the two-room Lutheran school for grades one through eight.
Our teachers were Ron and MaryAnn Krohse (pronounced “crow-zee”), a husband and wife who lived their legacy teaching at St. John’s for 43 years. Mrs. Krohse taught grades 1-4 “downstairs” and Mr. Krohse taught grades 5-8 “upstairs”.
My memory is filled with wonderful heart-warming experiences from those eight years. But I also remember very vividly some lessons I learned about boundaries.
Of course school discipline changed over the years. Even though corporal punishment went by the wayside Mr. Krohse still kept “the paddle” and gave us the opportunity to experience a “swat” once a year and sign our name to the paddle. I did take advantage of that opportunity one time and my rear end stung for a few minutes. I had not done anything wrong at the time to receive the swat, but even if I had that form of discipline would not have been near effective as the boundaries that were enforced in other situations.
Anyone who knows Mrs. Krohse instantly thinks of her bright smile and her warm hugs. The days in her classroom were filled with singing songs, learning addition and subtraction through flashcards, reciting Bible verses for “Memory”, writing stories for Creative Writing, and learning public speaking through Show and Tell.
I don’t remember any specific incidents of getting in trouble but I know I did. I talked to friends when I wasn’t supposed to or didn’t work on the assignment I was supposed to be focused on.
And all it took to get me to stop was for Mrs. Krohse to make eye contact with me. With a stern look and a slight shake of her head I received the message that I had crossed a boundary. My behavior was distracting other students or myself from learning.
I do remember a specific incident where Mr. Krohse taught me a lesson by enforcing a boundary.
Mr. Krohse was not afraid to take the time to get off-topic and teach us about something that was going on in the world at the time or an important life lesson. And he did the same thing as our coach.
I was in 5th grade and during a basketball game one of our opponents shot an air ball. One of my friends and I started shouting “airball” from the bench.
At halftime Mr. Krohse addressed the situation with us and told us that when we went back out to warm up for the second half we were going to go over to the opposing coach and apologize for our poor sportsmanship.
I was mad and I was embarrassed. But I did it.
Mrs. Krohse didn’t need a paddle. All she needed was that look.
That look coming from a woman I had so much respect and love for was tremendously more powerful than a swat from a paddle.
Mr. Krohse didn’t have to yell and scream. He simply had to create an environment of doing things the right way and bump us back on track when we started to get off course a little bit.
And when someone with integrity tells you that you messed up and asks you to fix it, you eventually figure out that you need to learn something from it.
Thank you Mr. and Mrs. Krohse for being pillars of faith and character. And thank you for leading us by enforcing boundaries to keep us on The Success Road.
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