‘She always did more than her teaching job’
As Sal Digirolamo recently went through his Norco Civic Association files, he found a long lost copy of a speech from Ethel Schoeffner’s retirement ceremony.
On now yellowed paper, the document recounts the history and humanity of one of the parish’s much beloved educators. The author is unknown, but as it turns out Principal Vanessa Terry, who heads the very school named after Schoeffner, said she’s looking for information about her, making the speech just as timely today.
Schoeffner was born on a farm in Kan-Kee-Kee, Ill. on Sept. 17, 1900, according to the speech. She started her teaching career in St. Charles Parish at the age of 18.
“You’ll remember, Miss Schoeffner, the little one room school on Prince Noir Island in Bayou Gauche, which had seven grades for more than 40 pupils,” the speech states.People who knew her, loved her.
“She always did more than her teaching job” was one comment about her. Another states, “She helped many children with problems she discovered they were having. She gave them faith in themselves, and instilled in them a desire to learn.”
From her one-room classroom, Schoeffner moved to Boutte and from there to the Hahnville Consolidated School. She went on to Luling and then to Norco, where she remained.
Schoeffner’s dedication was noted in how “she literally manned the school during the hurricane alerts.”
“Miss Schoeffner might not admit it, but we know that she spent many a night sleeping on a cot in this building, so she could finish her work and be here early next morning,” it states. “We also know, that in the very early years, she had hot grits and butter for her pupils who were not fortunate enough to have any breakfast at home.”
At her own expense, she also had dry clothes and shoes for the pupils who had to walk to school in the rain.
“Norco and Miss Schoeffner are symbolically inseparable, and it is our fondest hope that she will choose to enjoy her vacation right here among us,” states the speech.Schoeffner retired in 1965.
The speech closes with “We love you ‘Sheffie, We love you for the fine teacher and principal that you have been. We shall not let your retirement do anything but increase our love for you.”