It’s important to be active in your community, church and school

Editor’s note: This week marks the beginning of a new monthly feature called “Community Voices.” The intent is to provide a platform for individuals to offer a first-person perspective on a topic of their choosing.
By Betty Getzfred
Principal, Pope John/St. Boniface Schools
I have called Elgin home for 44 years, but Iowa is my family home. I was raised on a farm outside of Graettinger, IA. My parents William and Catherine Brown gave my 10 siblings and me a sense of belonging, love, a great work ethic, and an ability to enjoy the simple things in life. It was important that we learned and lived our Catholic faith and use the gifts and talents that God gave us.
I attended Mount Marty College in Yankton, S. Dak. When entering college I had the intention of studying nursing but at the end of my freshman year, I realized that I wanted to be a teacher. I credit Sister Rhoda for my change of heart. My dad was not too happy with my decision, but he supported my career choice. I graduated in the spring of 1976 and had landed a job at St. Boniface Middle School in Elgin. In the fall of 1976, I started my teaching career, I lived in Phil Schlenz’s basement, right across the street from the school. There have been a lot of changes in Elgin and at St.Boniface over the years.
Jim and I were married in June of 1977. We have two daughters, Sara and Megan. They have blessed us with five grandchildren. Both of our daughters attended St. Boniface and Pope John XXIII. Sara chose nursing as her career and Megan is in education, a fourth-grade teacher.
Elgin is a great community to raise your children and is very supportive of the schools. My only experience in education is Catholic education. Catholic education is a one-of-a-kind learning experience because it focuses on more than just academics. I believe that nurturing the entire person in mind, body, and spirit is necessary for a happy, healthy, and balanced life. I have been fortunate to work with so many dedicated professionals. Together we have continued to carry on the mission of Jesus Christ. I have been blessed to be a part of the best profession! One that provides opportunities every day to make a meaningful difference in the lives of young people by what we say and do, how we act and react in the decisions we make.
Over the years, I have had the opportunity to work with numerous pastors, board members, staff, and parents who have helped me become a better servant leader. It is rewarding each day to interact with children of former students, to work with former students as board members, staff members, community business owners, and parents.
I believe it is important to be active in your community, church, and school. I have been involved at St. Boniface Parish, serving as an EMHC, rosary leader, stewardship committee, and Altar Society member. Our community has active groups that work to provide activities for our community. One of the groups I have been involved in was the Chamber. Over the years I have been part of Vetch Days, community clean-up, Christmas parade, and youth programs. As with any organization it is as strong as its members are willing to participate.
An important part of pulling the community together was the coop of Elgin Public and Pope John athletic programs. In my first year as an administrator at Pope John (2008), Corey Fischer, Elgin Public’s Principal at the time, approached me with the idea of the coop. With the cooperation of the administration of both schools, board members, and parent support, the coop was formed and our students began the 2010 winter season as the Wolfpack.
Mother Teresa called out to us to “Do something beautiful for God with your life.” I firmly believe saying “yes” to the call to be a Catholic educator is doing something beautiful for God. A path in life I am glad I said “yes” to 44 years ago. I am retiring at the end of this school year. It has truly been an honor and privilege to serve alongside each one of my colleagues over the years.
To each one, I offer my heartfelt thank you.
With God’s Blessings, Betty Getzfred