By Corine Erlandson
FORT WAYNE — St. Joseph-St. Elizabeth School hosted a reception on Oct. 4, in St. Elizabeth’s parish hall to honor Joanne Krudop for her 43 years as first-grade teacher at both St. Joseph School on Brooklyn and later St. Joseph-St. Elizabeth School. Dozens of former students, both young and old, parents, colleagues, friends and family came out to greet and honor Krudop, who retired Aug. 15.
Early in her career, Krudop taught in the third and eighth grades at St. Vincent de Paul School for a year. Then from 1967 to 2009, she settled into being a first-grade teacher at St. Joseph School on Brooklyn Avenue and St. Joseph-St. Elizabeth School.
Krudop has wanted to be a teacher for as long as she can remember. She attended St. Joseph on Brooklyn and had religious sisters for teachers. “I was so relieved to learn that I could one day be a teacher and a wife and mother because I wanted to have children of my own,” she recalls.
She tells this story from her childhood: At a 7-year-old checkup, her doctor asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up. “I want to be a teacher and I want to have children too,” she replied. “How many children?” he asked.
“One thousand,” she answered. The doctor laughed and told her mother, “Well, she will learn that she can’t have both.”
Now at the end of her teaching career, Krudop said, “My students were my children. I did have 1,000 children, and then some!”
Ellen Langford, a St. Elizabeth parishioner, wife and mother of several children who were taught by Krudop in first grade, attended the reception for Krudop.
“I remember (then principal) Mary Schreiber telling me that one sign of a good school year is the answer to this question posed to a student: ‘Do you think your teacher likes you?’” Langford said. “My children always had a strong sense of being not only liked but loved by Mrs. Krudop when they were in her classroom. When I dropped them off for school, I felt like I was dropping them off to learn and spend time with a member of my own family.”
Krudop and her husband of 49 years, Robert, have three children, John, Jeff and Jenny. They have two daughters-in-law, one son-in-law and nine grandchildren. St. Joseph Parish School has always been a special place for Krudop and her family. “My aunts, uncles, myself and my siblings, my children and grandchildren have all attended this school,” she said.
“I have been very fortunate to work with a great faculty and staff,” the retiring teacher said. “We all had a total commitment to the education of each child. Everyone gave more than 100 percent.” Krudop spoke highly of her longtime teacher’s aide, Kathy Parnin, who assisted her in the classroom and who is also her sister. And she regards all the principals she has worked with highly, including Mary Schreiber and Lois Widner.
“Mrs. Krudop exemplified what it meant to be a Catholic school teacher,” Principal Lois Widner said. “Her compassion and dedication never faltered and her support for her administration never wavered. We were blessed to have her as a teacher.”
In 1991, Krudop was awarded the Northeast Indiana Bell Award for the Teacher of the Year. This award is given by the State of Indiana and honors one teacher in the public schools, and one in private schools in Northeast Indiana. “Receiving the Bell Award was a great honor. I am very thankful for that award,” she said.
Krudop looks forward to her retirement years when she plans to help care for some of her family members, including her 96-year-old mother-in-law. She hopes to enjoy her lake house and do some reading. She also plans to tutor and is helping to organize skating parties for St. Joseph-St. Elizabeth School. Krudop is also devoted to the rosary, which she prays every day.
Looking back, Krudop said, “I have had great students and phenomenal parents all these years of teaching. I’ve been so blessed,” she said.
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