MANITOWOC, Wis. — Susan Pritzl, a teacher at Manitowoc’s Stangel Elementary School, received a surprise visit from a student she taught 13 years ago.
Hailee Kotche, now a junior majoring in education at Silver Lake College, stopped in on Nov. 1 to present her former second-grade teacher with a letter of thanks for inspiring her to love reading.
“When you read books to us students, you would always use different tones and a lot of emotion, which made the books come alive,” Hailee wrote.
The letter began as an assignment in her college Language Arts and Literature class, taught by Chris Rettler, assistant professor of education. The assignment asked students to write down their memories of learning how to read.
“This course project was a teachable moment, where my students could express a sense of gratitude to the many teachers who provide excellent student models,” said Rettler, who accompanied Hailee on the visit. “I wanted my students to appreciate what teachers have done for them and to realize this is what they will be doing for their students. As a teacher, you never know where your influence begins and ends. That’s a big responsibility and a challenge.”
Rettler added her own letter to Pritzl: “Hailee, the entire class and I thank you for being the wonderful inspiration you are to children and the teaching profession,” she wrote.
They presented Pritzl with framed copies of the letters and a card during their visit.
Pritzl, who now teaches third grade, also inspired Hailee to follow in her footsteps through an elementary school writing assignment. She asked her students what they wanted to be when they became older.
Hailee wrote that she wanted to be a teacher. Ten years later, Pritzl mailed the assignment back to her former students.
“When I opened up that letter … and it said that I want to become a teacher, I knew right then and there, that my calling was to be a teacher,” said Hailee, who hopes to teach first grade. “I want to make an impact on my students, like you have impacted me. I know you are still changing the lives of your students and I cannot wait for the day that I can do the same.”
PHOTO: Pictured, from left, are Chris Rettler, Susan Pritzl and Hailee Kotche.