Area school members starting a new chapter in life

By Diana Hammell

The Caledonia Argus


Dick Hatlevig
Dick Hatlevig

Dick Hatlevig will retire from teaching at Caledonia Area Elementary School after being in the classroom since the fall of 1989. He taught special education, physical education, adaptive PE and taught in the Smart Room.

The biggest changes he’s seen since he began his career is in teaching techniques in the classroom. “There is more and more technology,” Hatlevig said.

“Going to kindergarten round-up with my own kids made me realize that I wanted to be a teacher,” Hatlevig said. “My wife was the kind of teacher I wanted to be. What I will miss the most is the interaction with my students.”

When asked what he was most proud of during his career, Hatlevig said it had to be receiving letters from former students thanking him for caring enough about them to make a difference in their lives. “Whenever one of my students graduated from high school created memorable moments for me,” he said.

Now that he has retired, you will see Hatlevig spending more time with his family, “and especially my grandbabies,” he said.


Sue Burg
Sue Burg

Sue Burg will retire from teaching after overseeing grade school classes for 41 years. “I started teaching in the fall of 1972,” Burg said. “I was one of the third grade teachers at Crucifixion in La Crescent. I was in third for five years, then was moved to fourth for two years and then fifth for five years.  While I was in fourth and fifth, I taught all the science for fourth, fifth and sixth grade.  I started at St. Mary’s the fall of 1985 and have been in third grade ever since.”

Burg said that the biggest change she’s seen since she began in education is the change in parenting styles. “Just as everything in life changes, so has the  way parents parent. New trends and ideas surface and these are tried out – some with great success and others not so much. I still believe in the tried and true methods, of making sure they know you love them no matter what,  being consistent, listening and never threatening anything you won’t follow through on.

“My mom says that when I was in second grade, I came home and announced that I would be a teacher when I grew up. At that time, my teacher was a Mrs. Crotty, and I really thought she was wonderful. I never changed my mind and have often said if I had to do it over, I would choose the exact same path.

“After 41 years in the classroom, what I will most miss is  the  children. Every day is new and different and I learn so much each day.  They accept you, forgive you, care about you and come with a smile each day.  You really can’t get that anywhere but in a classroom.

“I feel most proud when a child says I am fair. To me, that is so very important. I also really appreciate when a parent tells me that I really know and understand their child.  After all, that is what I am supposed to do.

“As for future plans, I would like to sub and volunteer at St. Mary’s.  I guess you can take the teacher out of the classroom, but you can’t make her stay away.”


Tom Reichenbacher
Tom Reichenbacher

Tom Reichenbacher, who has been the St. Mary’s School principal for the past six years, will leave St. Mary’s to become the new Assistant Superintendant for the La Crosse Diocese.

Reichenbacher has been in education for 21 years, since 1993, and has taught in every grade from fourth through 12th. He has worked in inner city schools, suburban schools and rural community schools like St. Mary’s and in Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota.

Of the things that have changed in education since he began his career, Reichenbacher said, “Educators are required to do more for students. The amount of “stuff” we teach has increased and we teach more complicated concepts at younger levels. What was once taught in the seventh grade is now taught in the fifth grade.

“I believe that God calls us all to a vocation,” Reichenbacher said. “I’m a Catholic school teacher. Plus, I have never wanted to leave school; I have so much fun in school. I will definitely miss the students of St. Mary’s School. For the last six years, I have laughed every day. I thank all of the students for that gift.”

When asked what he was most proud of, Reichenbacher said, “Last year, St. Mary’s School was reaccredited by the Minnesota Nonpublic School Accreditation Association. The leader of the visiting team, Dr. Peter Knoll, stated that our mission ‘permeates from the walls of the building.’

“There have been many memorable moments at St. Mary’s School and Church for me, but I believe the courage and grace of Marissa Klein will always stick with me. She displayed more faith and joy than any other student I have taught.”

As the Assistant Superintendent for the Diocese of La Crosse, Reichenbacher will oversee all the Catholic schools in the diocese. “As a member of the Curia, I will be doing whatever the Bishop of La Crosse, Bishop Callahan, requests. At this time, I am anticipating that I’ll be helping coordinate curriculum, working on accreditations and standardized testing and helping develop the new teacher formation program.”

Caledonia residents and St. Mary’s parishioners will be