Art Teacher Brandtner Set to Retire at End of Year


Payton Van Pelt, Staff Writer, Advanced Journalism

“I always believed that when one door opens, go through it. And when another door opens, go through that one.”

Barbara Brandtner has been an art teacher with the Notre Dame Academy community for 23 years. After the 2018 school year, she will be retiring.

Looking back at her time here, she said, “I have taught and been touched by so many students over the past 23 years.  I have met many wonderful colleagues in which I’ve shared the ups and downs of our professional and personal lives.  I have had the privilege to work with five presidents, six principals and five associate principals.  I have had a very rich life working at NDA on a daily basis. I have immersed myself in the traditions of being a Catholic school teacher and shared what knowledge I have concerning the visual arts.  I’ve done my best.”

Brandtner attended Saint Agnes, known now as Holy Family, for her primary education, St. Joseph Academy for high school and then finished her education at University of Wisconsin Green Bay.

Her family has also been part of the Green Bay community for quite a long time. They live on the west side of Green Bay.

“ I am the third of eight children.  We all attended Catholic grade schools and Catholic high school and continue to be practicing Catholics,” said the teacher.

Brandtner has always loved the arts and wanted to work in that field.

“I come from a family of teachers,” she explained, “so it made sense in my mind to become a teacher. We are ‘people persons.’”

After two years of formal art education at Saint Joseph Academy, she concentrated on Communication Action, Visual Art Emphasis and Teacher Certification at UWGB.

“I started my teaching career directly out of the university until my children were born,” Brandtner said. “Between jobs, I worked as a library aide in my local community library (in Seymour), volunteered as a helper at St. John the Baptist in Seymour when my children attended school there and substitute taught until I was fully employed at NDA in 1995.”

Three years ago, Brandtner reached the age of retirement and began to contemplate the decision.

“One reason I am retiring is to visit my three children in Oregon any time of the year,” she said. “Teaching, I can only travel when we are on break, which is not the best time to fly or drive out West. I am healthy, so why not enjoy the ‘golden years’ now?”

“I am a painter, but in the past few years I picked up weaving on a loom.  So this is an area I would like to pursue.  I may try working with a spinning wheel and make my own yarns to weave into my own cloth.  I love playing with color, so this is something I’d like to pursue.  Also, I’m hoping to get more involved in the art community of Green Bay and go wherever life’s road takes me.”

Brandtner’s friends and extended family live in the Green Bay area, so she intends to remain here “for now.”

Aside from being eager to spend time with her family, Brandtner will miss the NDA  community and the daily aspect of teaching here.

“I will miss many things about NDA.  One thing would be the interaction with my students.  I will miss experiencing the growing pains of my students.  I will miss being part of their day. I have learned so much from my students. Sharing their vision of life through fresh eyes has kept me involved in the new and unknown,” she said.

The retiring teacher found it difficult to pinpoint her favorite moment from teaching.

“The best part of my job is seeing that ‘light bulb’ grow brighter in a student’s head through their art.  Sometimes, I want to do a somersault, leaping for joy, but because I am in an art room and am not physically capable of doing acrobats, I do this in my head.  What a glorious feeling when student growth is evident!”

She will also miss her peers and the “camaraderie” of working with such a supportive and caring faculty.

Brandtner also expressed her gratitude of being able to teach with religious freedom.  She appreciates the Holy Day masses, special prayer services and the daily prayers that Notre Dame has provided.

Some of the best advice she ever received about teaching came from math teacher Harry Geiser, who told her,  “When a teacher keeps learning, they are a better teacher.”

“I have always tried to live up to that statement.  Always learning,” said Brandtner.