Theology Teacher Lisa Schmidt Retires After 32 Years at NDA


Lily Arkens, Staff Writer, Advanced Journalism

Adviser’s Note:  Our lead photo is Mrs. Schmidt’s first of 32 NDA IDs. 

“I always knew that I wanted to go out on ‘my time’ and on ‘top,’ while I still felt effective and enjoyed the work. I also knew that I wanted to retire while I am still young and enjoying the gift of good health,” said theology teacher, Lisa Schmidt, who will be retiring after this year.

Schmidt has been teaching at NDA for 32 years. She started teaching in August of 1991 and had this job lined up for her in March of her senior year at St. Norbert College. 

“I have watched eight classes go through four years of high school,” said Schmidt. 

Schmidt started the same day as her fellow theology teacher Mr. Shane Lagerman and principal Ms. Andrea Hearden, who started as a science teacher.  

During COVID, she realized how wonderful it was to feel rested and that she has spent her whole life saving her energy for this job. 

“After we came back from COVID, I started to have a lot of clarity, and I realized that doing this work the way that is needed isn’t really sustainable for me anymore. I also realized that I didn’t want to work full-time much longer,” said Schmidt. 

When coming back this fall, with the full support of her husband, she knew it needed to be her last year. 

She and her husband are approaching her retirement with the mantra “More will be revealed.”

Schmidt plans to take 6 months off.

“I started writing a book during COVID, so I plan to see that through to completion. We are building a little cabin in the north woods, so I am really looking forward to spending extended time up there in the woods and on the water in my kayak. I also have plans to learn how to play the ukulele and to finally learn how to use my sewing machine,” said Schmidt. 

Beyond those things, she is looking forward to unstructured time like turning the alarm clock off, time with family, long walks, cooking and morning coffee with her husband every day. 

“My husband will still be working, but I also look forward to the freedom to try new things, travel (visiting more national parks), and help out when there is a need. And free time! I’m excited and open to whatever the next chapter will be,” she said.

There will be a lot of things Schmidt will miss. The laughter many classes provide, inside jokes, her daily conversations with Mr. Geiser and Mrs. Hall, having Ms. Hearden as principal, interactions with students, the gratifications that come with a great teaching day, all the intellectual challenges teaching provides, learning cool new technology for teachers, and her daily walk out in the NDA parking lot. 

“I will not miss always having to be thinking about tomorrow, next week, next month, semester exams, etc. Every teacher can relate to that. I will have to learn how to live in the present,” shared Schmidt. 

One of her favorite memories is when the football team took state in Madison back in the 90s.

“On the return trip from Madison, the buses were met with a police escort at the Brown County line back to NDA. The gym was filled with excited parents, students, and fans,” she said. 

Her prayer classes also provided many, many wonderful memories which she will never forget. 

“I had an 8th hour Freshman Theology class several years ago that will be with me forever. They were like a family. We laughed every day, and I still chuckle every time I think about them and the cute things they did to try to get me off task,” she said.

Two of the students in that class got married some years later, which she described as “epic!”

To the students of NDA, Schmidt would say, “See your own unique beauty. Nourish your faith. Hard work ALWAYS pays off. Do the right thing, despite the others. And, always move forward despite self doubt or lack of confidence.” 

“To the adults of NDA, I would say take care of yourself. Value the little things. Practice self care. Don’t be so busy that you forget that relationships are the most important thing. Walk with those people in moments in life when they really need you. Take some alone time every day. Don’t put off what is important to you. Time goes fast and is precious,” she said.