A drive-by farewell for a beloved teacher

Sue Krier, who is retiring after a 42-year career at Port parochial schools, was moved to tears by a special goodbye befitting an educator credited with inspiring generations

LONGTIME TEACHER Sue Krier and Lucas Boldig, one of her students, shared a smile during a parade held to mark Krier’s retirement after 42 years teaching in Port Washington’s Catholic schools.
Ozaukee Press staff

Sue Krier is retiring June 15 after 42 years as a parochial school teacher in Port Washington — but that doesn’t mean you won’t see her in the classroom this fall.

Krier hopes to be back at school as a part-time aide.

“Maybe five or six hours a week to help out. I would love to do that,” she said.

Krier is a beloved teacher whose students and their parents took to the road last week to celebrate her retirement, parading past her Town of Belgium home to share memories and hugs.

“Oh my Lord — it was a shock,” Krier said. “This was way better than any party, ever. I was out in my yard planting some flowers when all the sudden this car drove into the driveway. They just kept pulling up and beeping.

“I dissolved. They handed me a box of Kleenex.”

Families dropped off flowers, gifts, candy, cards and posters. 

“Their words of gratitude were just amazing,” Krier said. “The letters these parents wrote me — they were so kind and sweet. They were so kind.”

She asked parents if she could give their children a hug, and “I did not have one parent who did not let me. There was no social distancing.

“It was wonderful. I needed closure and the kids needed it as much as I did,” Krier added, noting she hasn’t shared a classroom with her students since the pandemic closed schools on March 13.

St. John XXIII School Principal Kristi Klein said Krier is “the most amazing teacher of kindergarten ever.”

“She truly has devoted her life to the children,” Klein said. “Her patience and kindness is remarkable. She has a smile and a hug for every child. The joy and  enthusiasm and the love she brings to every child is unlike any other — she’s extraordinary.

“Every child she’s touched just loves her.”

Krier, she added, is the reason many parents choose to educate their children at St. John XXIII School.

“She treats the children like her own,” Klein said, adding that when adults are asked which teacher they remember, Krier is often the person they mention.

Krier, 65, is also the longest tenured teacher at St. John XXIII.

“I started as the youngest teacher, and now I’m the oldest,” noted Krier, who began working for the school system right out of college.

She began as a kindergarten teacher at St. Peter Catholic School in Port Washington. When St. Peter and St. Mary schools merged to from Port Catholic School,  she moved to the St. Mary’s School building.

Krier was there, too, when Port Catholic School became St. John XXIII School, which this year closed the St. Mary’s Campus and consolidated operations at St. Peter’s Campus.

She has always taught at the kindergarten, 4K or first grade level.

“I always liked the little ones,” Krier said. “It’s a sweet, sweet age. The innocence of these kids. The enthusiasm they have when they get it — you can just see it. Their eyes sparkle. The sense of pride they have and the sense of accomplishment.”

She always wanted to be a teacher, said Krier, who has a bachelor’s degree in nursery school and kindergarten from the university of Wisconsin-Stout and an associate degree in early childhood development from Milwaukee Area Technical College.

She said she was happy to find a job in her hometown, and only once considered leaving the district.

“At a Catholic school, it’s a nice warm feeling,” Krier said. “The people are a family.”

She’s been with St. John and its predecessor schools so long that she’s now teaching the children of her students — something that amazes her current pupils.

“They’re amazed I know them (their parents),” Krier said, adding that some youngsters are even more amazed to discover she doesn’t live at school.

It’s hard to recall her favorite memories, Krier said, but chief among them were calls children would make to Santa Claus, portrayed by her husband, the late Jim Krier.

She would give her husband a list of her students, what they like and what they needed to improve on so he could study up on the children. She and the youngsters would then call Santa from the faculty room, and they would have a conversation that brought the magic of the holiday to life.

“Jim and I didn’t have children,” Krier said, “But I had lots of them — lots of nice, little ones.”

She also recalled the wall of handprints she had at St. Mary’s School — a tradition that will be replicated in the future. Her students would paint their handprints on the wall, and then retrace them when they graduated eighth grade.

“The kids loved that,” Krier said, noting some college students would return and trace their hands. 

Several notable students also returned later to trace their hands, including Genna Quentin, now Sister Mae Thérése of the Mother of God, a member of the Community of Franciscan Sisters of the Renewal, who returned to Port after taking her initial vows, and Alyssa Ross, a former student who retraced her handprint when she returned to the school as a teacher.

“Every day is a different memory,” Krier said. “Every day was different. If they weren’t ready to learn, we played. One day, the students wanted to know how keys were made so we walked to True Value and they made keys for the kids. We would walk to the parks, post office and library.”

The biggest change she’s seen through the years is what’s asked of the children.

“What I’m teaching in 4K is what I taught at the end of kindergarten before,” she said. “They take state tests at the beginning of the year and at the end.

“(In college) we were taught this is how you play with kids and they should know their colors. Today, we ask so much more. These kids go home and they can’t do it and they get frustrated. That breaks my heart.”

The full-day classes with little time to play is also difficult for youngsters, she said.

“That’s a lot to ask,” she said. “It’s academics all day long. These kids, they have to know how to play. They have to know how to socialize, to know how to go on with life. Social and emotional growth is so important.”

The pandemic brought a complete change to school, Krier said. She didn’t teach virtually but instead put together weekly packets that were delivered to or picked up by parents, and she was available via phone for any questions.

Perhaps because of the upheaval of the pandemic, Krier said, the fact she’s retiring hasn’t really sunk in yet.

“It might not hit me until September,” she said. Other than spending time in her garden and with her puppy Harry James, a Yorkie-poodle mix, she’s not sure where life will take her from here.

In all, Krier said, it’s been a good career.

“The sweetness and innocence of these young children — so much pressure is put on them and if I can be a glimmer of light for them, that’s all I ask.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better career. I love my job.”


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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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