For almost four decades, Most Precious Blood School in Fort Wayne has had the joy of having Karen Lohmuller as part of its teaching staff. Her contributions to the student body and administrators have helped to improve education for the children and support staff through faith and teamwork.
For Lohmuller, Christ-centered education has been a staple in her life. Originally from Gary, she attended St. Luke School for grades one through 6, St. Mary of the Lake school for junior high, and in Merrillville she graduated from Andrean High School.
“I was fortunate to receive a Catholic education my whole life. My faith is important to me. I knew I would likely teach in a Catholic school, so that God could be a part of my classroom,” she said.
Her passion for faith-filled education led her to the University of Saint Francis in Fort Wayne, where she completed her Bachelor of Science degree in 1981 and her Master of Science in 1986. Before completing her undergraduate work, Lohmuller did micro-teaching experiences at Most Precious Blood. This learning technique is used for aspiring teachers: It is a process where student teachers can gain real-world experience hands-on in the classroom.
After completing her student teaching requirements in the fall of 1980, the principal of Most Precious Blood at the time, Ed Habrowski, hired Lohmuller to teach third grade starting in the fall of 1981. From there, she began her journey as a pillar of Most Precious Blood School and parish.
She has spent her whole adult life as a member of the parish, from getting married to her children attending the school and receiving their sacraments there. She has made many connections over the years with other parishioners, parents of her students and former students. “It is heart-warming to see so many of the families sitting in church who I have a connection to because I taught someone in their family or they were former students themselves,” she said, adding, “Yes, I am at the point in my life where I have been teaching children of former students.”
During her tenure, Lohmuller taught several levels of education. In her first year, she taught general education subjects for third grade: In her second year, she applied for a homeroom position for the sixth-grade class, a time she looks back on fondly. “Former students from those years had a reunion with three of us former teachers in September 2019, and we shared fond memories,” she said.
In her 39 years, she has taught not only third and sixth grades, but she has also taught students at the fourth and fifth grade levels, staying in her fourth grade position these last few years because that was the grade she had originally longed to teach.
Lohmuller received the Light of Learning Award during the 2001-02 school year and in 2011-12. In 2016, she received the Educator of the Year Award from the American Legion Fourth District.
Being a part of the Most Precious Blood family has been a centering experience for her. One of her favorite parts of teaching, and working at a Catholic school, is “being able to share my faith and talk about Jesus with students and parents. It’s something I treasure.”
The pandemic was a trying time, however, and it made retiring a little different for her than it might have been for others in years past.
“Teaching during a global pandemic has been a challenge for all teachers, including me. Last spring, I embraced the opportunity to use technology to teach remotely. I attempted to keep a connection with students, but it wasn’t easy. And the staff are not eating lunch together nor socializing like we used to. I miss that.”
Other things she will miss, she said, are reading books with her class and teaching math. Seeing the expression of, “Oh, I get it!” when math concepts begin to make sense is something she said makes her feel proud. She will also have memories of “being with awesome co-workers, learning to use the latest technology to enhance learning, sending an experiment to the upper stratosphere with a weather balloon, and having former students greet me in the hallway.”
Although Lohmuller will miss her home with Most Precious Blood School, she is ready to start the next chapter of her life by traveling, seeing far-away family and doing many activities with her husband, like fishing, bike riding and hiking.
As she transitions to this next phase, she is confident that “the future looks bright as new faces join the staff. I have poured my heart and soul into this beloved school, and others continue to do the same.”
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