Stephani starts a new chapter


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Ms. Stephani’s school photo 2020. She is retiring after so many years with OHS

Kenzie Haberman, Writer

As the end of the school year rolls in, many staff members are looking forward to going back to OHS in the fall. For Ms. Wendy Stephani, this school year was her last time being at OHS. Many students and staff will know Ms. Stephanie from being a founder of the ninth grade Academy Program reading teacher and cherish the memories they had with her. 

Mrs. Stephani has been teaching for 36 years, but before that, she had other interesting jobs. She said, “Some jobs that I had in high school and college were waitressing, working in the college library and as a camp counselor. One summer I worked in a factory that made parade float kits.” She started her teaching career in Wauzeka, Wisconsin, working with elementary students. She then moved on to Waseca High School where she worked as a 9-12 special education teacher for the next five years. Ms. Stephani said, “I always thought I would teach elementary students, to be honest.  I found out after teaching at Waseca High School, that I loved working with high school aged students.  With high school students, teaching is more of a partnership. I love showing students that they can be more than they thought they could be and helping them reach their potential.” In the fall of 1989, she began teaching at Owatonna Jr. High and continued to work as a special education teacher. Finally, in 2005, Mrs. Stephani came to OHS, where she has been ever since.

Although Mrs. Stephani will miss working alongside her coworkers, students and friends, she has much to look forward to in retirement. Stephani said, “As I tell my students, I hope to be reading a lot of books while enjoying my coffee! My husband and I plan to travel once he retires, and we plan to spend a lot of time taking trips to the North Shore.”

She always ups her game, learns from her mistakes, adjusts, reflects; and it inspires you to do better too.

— Mrs. Boisen

With the current COVID-19 situation, her retirement has been a little different than expected and saying goodbye to her beloved students through a screen will be upsetting. She said, “It’s definitely not the way I planned on finishing my career in teaching. My favorite part of teaching is my time with my students. And even though I’m still connecting with my students on the computer screen, it isn’t the same.”  Many of Stephani’s colleagues will miss her company at OHS. Stephani’s coworker, Mrs. Boisen said, “She is a hummingbird in her constant movement yet efficient use of energy. She always ups her game, learns from her mistakes, adjusts, reflects; and it inspires you to do better too. Ever since my first day at the high school, I have felt supported and encouraged and that has been Mrs. Stephani’s approach with her students as well. She will be missed!”

Admiring her time at OHS, Ms. Stephani said, “What I love about working at OHS, is that our staff is always working hard to come up with the best ways to excite students about learning. I will miss the students and my coworkers. OHS is a great place to work and it will feel odd not returning next fall. I hope that my students have learned from me that anything is possible with hard work and determination.”

Mrs. Stephani has left an impact on OHS, as well as her students. Her time at OHS has left her students feeling grateful for her company, compassion, perseverance and her push to show each individual their full potential will truly stay with students forever.