By Dennis Morgan
A search committee will soon be formed to find a successor to Pope John/St. Boniface Principal Betty Getzfred.
Last week, she informed the school’s advisory board that she will be retiring from the position at the end of the 2020-2021 school year.
She told The Elgin Review Monday morning, as a snowstorm had forced the cancellation of school for the day, that prayer led her to make the decision to step away from education here in Elgin which began back in the late 1970s.
“It just got to the point where you think maybe I’ve done everything that God wanted me to do in the position,” she said.
Mrs. Getzfred said her two older sisters had retired, which impacted her decision as well as the desire to spend more time attending the activities of her grandchildren. She said she hasn’t been able to see them as often as she would like due to the responsibilities of being a school administrator.
“We (along with husband Jim) used to make those trips to Lincoln and Gretna at night and then be able to get up the next morning and teach all day,” she said. “It’s getting harder. I’ve sacrificed a lot of their activities for school activities (here) and I just felt like I needed to do this before they’re no longer around — time is going to go pretty fast here.”
Not just teach all day, but when there’s an activity involving the school and its students, one can always count on seeing Mrs. Getzfred there.
She said attending and supporting students in their activities, not just sports, but music, speech and other activities is part of the position as a school administrator which she thoroughly has enjoyed.
“It’s important for the kids to know that you care enough to be at their activities, you know they’ve worked hard for that … and to showcase their accomplishments.” She said the students at the schools have come to expect her at their activities.
One of the highlights for her position is graduation day where she shares the accomplishments the seniors have made, among them their ACT scores always above the state and national averages and the thousands of dollars in scholarships awarded each year.
“I think it’s necessary for people to know that (academic success),” she said.
“It’s always nice to recognize those kids for who they are.”
She was quick to credit teachers, advisory board members as well as parents for helping students reach their goals both inside and outside the classroom.
The task will soon begin for the advisory board to form a search committee and advertise for a new principal.
“Hopefully, there’s someone out there that really wants to be not only a principal, but a servant leader of a Catholic school,” she said. “You can be a principal anywhere, but it’s a whole different thing if you’re a servant leader.”
An Iowa native, she graduated from Mount Marty College in 1976. She has spent her entire career in education here in Elgin, first as a teacher at St. Boniface Elementary School. In the fall of 2008, she became full-time administrator at PJCC and St. Boniface schools.
By Dennis Morgan