SFMS health teacher to retire

by Verla Peichl
Falls News Correspondent


SHEBOYGAN FALLS MIDDLE SCHOOL health teacher Deb Federer is set to retire at the conclusion of the 2015-16 school year. - Falls News photo by Verla Peichl SHEBOYGAN FALLS MIDDLE SCHOOL health teacher Deb Federer is set to retire at the conclusion of the 2015-16 school year. - Falls News photo by Verla Peichl When the final school bell rings on Tuesday, June 7, Sheboygan Falls Middle School health teacher Deb Federer will retire.

Her most recent duties have involved teaching seventh- and eighth-grade health classes, but up until 10 years ago, she taught physical education.

“When I retire. it will be after 36 years of teaching,” said Federer. “I’ve been here at the Sheboygan Falls Middle School for 29 years and prior to that, I had been at Immaculate Conception Christ Child Academy for seven years.

“I enjoyed teaching phy. ed. just as I enjoy health,” she said. “But one of the differences is that there isn’t as much paperwork with phy. ed. like there is in health class.”

After a long career in teaching, Federer says the time is right for retirement.

“I’m retiring now because it’s time,” said Federer. “You just get to the point where you know. I’ve had a good career and there are things I want to do while I can still do them. I like to work in my yard and take care of Sophie, my dog, and take her for walks. She is a Havanese and she’s just fun. I also am on the board for the Sheboygan Lakers Figure Skating Cllub.

“I’m single and that’s one of those things where I never found anyone that I felt would make my life better, and I love to travel,” she said. “Not by air, if possible. I enjoy a good road trip and I’ve been in all 50 states.”

Federer has found that there have been many changes in health during the past years. She says teaching health has become almost complex over the years, which in turn has made it more challenging.

“There is always a focus on drugs, alcohol and smoking,” said Federer. “There are less kids that smoke now, but I still try to teach them to make good choices and pay attention as to what the consequences are to bad choices.

“Topics that I teach are selfesteem, choice of careers, death and dying and I teach tolerance and respect,” she said. “Teaching nutrition is always important. Eating disorders were upfront when I first started and now it’s not all about eating disorders. Now we do more with self-injury, which was not an issue in the beginning, but it all started to accelerate in the 90s. When kids do self-injury they are not trying to kill themselves, but rather they are crying out for help and using the self-injury as a way to start a dialogue.”

One of the biggest issues Federer touches on regularly is bullying.

“Bullying is now a big topic,” said Federer. “I do what I can to deal with bullying and what’s going on with it, but sometimes they need to be referred to talk to the counselor.”

Federer has had an open agenda regarding what she taught and teaches. She will look at stories on the internet or television or simply observe what’s around, in the environment, and then bring those issues and or concerns to the students in her classroom.

“I work on life’s learning skills and can teach anything about life and life issues,” said Federer. “I look for resources that teach my philosophy and then I bring that to the classroom.

“It’s important to keep things in real time about what’s happening now and then I start a discussion with the kids,” she said. “It’s probably 50-50 with boys and girls as far as talking freely and bringing out what’s on their mind. I also help them deal with sex and respect, and we talk about morals and values and what the consequences are in their lives. Some discussions are serious and I just hope that I’ve made a positive difference.”

Federer believes she will miss many things about teaching.

“I will miss the kids and the people that I work with,” said Federer. “I love teaching a topic that I’m really passionate about and it will really hit me in August and September when I’m not walking into a school like I have for the past 53 years. I do have trip planned already for the end of September.

“I would like to be remembered as a teacher that made a positive difference in the student’s lives,” she said. “One big change is that topics are more up front than in the past and I think that’s important and a good thing. There is more communication with parents now, than in years past and that too is important.”


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