Teachers leaving at year’s end

Four teachers leaving at year’s end

By Addison Keller & Isabelle Nussbaum







Sacred Heart will look to fill multiple job openings as four teachers have announced they will vacate their positions at the end of the 2023-24 school year.

Sebastian Boelhower, the current Sacred Heart K-12 Band and Choir teacher, plans to take on a new journey as band director at Milford High School.

Although Boelhower is excited about the opportunity to be closer to family and have a position that focuses solely on a band program, he will miss Sacred Heart. “These students are all like family, and their parents and teachers are all the same,” Boelhower said. “I will miss the love, support, and community I found here; it is what makes leaving indescribably hard.”

Teaching was Boelhower’s first and only career choice. He got his inspiration from having both of his parents as teachers. “I got a firsthand view of how my parents positively impacted students’ lives,” Boelhower said. “I knew I wanted to do the same, so I followed in their footsteps and never doubted the path!”

Boelhower student-taught at Aurora Public Schools last year and has been at Sacred Heart for one year. In his free time, Boelhower enjoys traveling, stargazing, hiking, and anything involving the outdoors.

Boelhower’s biggest hope for his students is that they come to love music and understand it.  “Music is so powerful and can impact us in ways nothing else can,” Boelhower said. “I want my students to pursue this art, regardless of their teacher because of the positive outcomes they will have from it.”

Linda Kirkendall is retiring after 46 years of teaching at Sacred Heart. Kirkendall teaches various English classes and a modern living class that teaches life skills. In addition to teaching classes, she is also a sponsor of the ‘Helping Hands’ volunteer group that is made up by students who do things in the school and around the community.

Kirkendall first realized her love for teaching when she helped a handicapped student every day during her senior year of high school. At first, she wanted to go into elementary education. However, after one semester at Peru State College, an instructor pointed out her strength in English and literature, and she decided to switch to secondary education.

“I learned a long time ago that life doesn’t revolve around money, but should revolve around faith, family, and friends,” Kirkendall said. “I hope that my students love the job they go to each and every day as much as I have and they enjoy a happy lifetime with people they love.” Kirkendall’s advice to aspiring teachers includes the fact that there will be plenty of good days and bad days, but the good outnumber the bad, and there is such satisfaction to what teachers do for their students each day.

After retirement, Kirkendall plans to spend her new free time helping her sons at the farm. “I love the farm and want to go back to being more involved,” Kirkendall said. “I will stay busy and hope to volunteer or substitute teach at Sacred Heart.” She also plans on dedicating more time to her hobbies of cooking, working in the garden, canning fruits and vegetables, embroidery, and reading.

After 45 years as a Sacred Heart teacher, fifth grade teacher Pam Smith will retire at the end of this school year. Smith was inspired by her grandmother, who taught third grade in a one-room schoolhouse. Although Smith will miss her Sacred Heart family and the camaraderie within everyone, she looks forward to traveling, reading and exploring new hobbies with her new free time. “This is a wonderful group of people, and I have been so blessed to be here with them,” Smith said. “I am truly going to miss Sacred Heart!”

Smith will also miss all the students and the comforting feeling of watching a child grow and learn. “One of my favorite things about Sacred Heart is the ability to bring God into my classroom,” Smith said. “I think teaching is much more meaningful when you are teaching children to be their very best, not only academically, but also to be disciples of Christ and learn to treat each other with dignity and respect.”

Smith’s favorite Sacred Heart traditions are the Living Rosary, the National Honor Society Induction ceremony, and all school Mass. She hopes her students live a life of faith, hope, and happiness because life will get in the way and rough times happen to everyone, but God will always be there.

After teaching at Sacred Heart for ten years, Erin Waller is leaving her language arts position. She hopes to still be involved with the school through subbing, volunteering, or some other way. “I can’t see myself not being involved in the Sacred Heart family some way,” Waller said.

Waller has loved the idea of teaching since very early on due to the example set by her mother, who was an elementary level teacher in the Falls City Public School system for over thirty years. “I always loved being in her classroom, watching her grade papers and seeing her interact with her students,” Waller said.

Waller got her undergraduate degree at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in English and Communications then went on to get her master’s degree from Creighton University in Secondary Education. She taught English classes at Omaha Skutt Catholic High School for ten years before moving back to Falls City with her family. At Sacred Heart, she has taught a variety of classes including publications, 7th grade reading, freshmen and senior English classes, and even some computer classes.

“It is difficult to think about not getting to see and interact with SH students and see their growth and progress; that is by far my favorite part about being a teacher,” Waller said. “I hope all of my students develop a love for learning and become critical thinkers who positively contribute to society.”

Waller looks forward to having more time to spend with her family and friends as well as having more time in her schedule to read.