Retiring teacher loved by many

A student’s rendition of Brenda Limestall drawn with chalk. (submitted photo)

A student’s rendition of Brenda Limestall drawn with chalk. (submitted photo)

“Happy retirement! You are the best teacher in the world!”
— Morgan
“Love you Mrs. Limestall!”
— Adriana
“Thank you for all you did for me Mrs. Limestall.”
— Nathan

These are just a few of the farewell messages Brenda Limestall received from second grade students as she finished her final year of teaching at Rogers Elementary. One student also drew a lovely chalk drawing of the 34-year Waterloo teacher.

“That’s one of my favorites!” she said.

After a long and prosperous career of teaching second grade at Zahnow Elementary for 28 years and at Rogers for the  past six, Limestall is retiring from the district.

The Red Bud resident, who attended Waterloo schools in her childhood, explained a love for teaching that brewed even before her start in education. From a love of learning to a sweet childhood innocence among the second graders, she continued to enjoy her teaching experience throughout.

“After having (Dotty Rick) as my first grade teacher, I knew I wanted to be a teacher in elementary school,” Limestall told the Republic-Times.

Years later, Limestall would invite Rick to her class to read and lecture to students.

“The kids didn’t know who she was, of course,” she said. “But they did really enjoy having her there,” she said.

Her life came full circle in more than just one way when she ended up not only teaching kids whose parents she went to school with, but also teaching kids whose parents she taught the generation before.

“That was when I knew it was time,” Limestall said of her decision to retire.

These parents would get a kick out of coming to an open house and seeing that Limestall posted their photos on the wall from when they were in her class.

“I liked being in an area where everyone knew everyone,” she said.

The small-town feel also helped Limestall build a colleague-based relationship with Ss Peter & Paul Catholic School fifth grade teacher Judy Haberl. That relationship began when she substituted at SPPCS during Haberl’s maternity leave for one semester.

“That was how I got my start in teaching,” Limestall said. “We would go to each other’s classes and observe and help each other out.”

Another benefit to teaching in Waterloo included various ways the community would help the school districts.

“Whether it’s Catholic school or public school,” the community showed continued support, she said.

Limestall also appreciated how much kids “want to learn and feel special.” She loved teaching to a point that she knew just what wisdom to impart on teaching assistants about deciding on their careers.

“I always told the TAs, ‘You need to be able make up your mind and say, ‘Is this what I really want?’” she said. “My husband would say to me, ‘This is not your job. This is our life.’”

Now, Limestall moves on to retirement, where she will leave on a family cruise Saturday to the Western Caribbean. She also plans to continue volunteering at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Tipton.

As to whether she will continue working for the district part-time, her answer is “No, at least not in the first year of retirement.”

But she will continue to enjoy spending free time spoiling her grandson, reading, scrapbooking and traveling.

In her final year with the district, Limestall was lauded by staff and students on many occasions. She rode a float with retiring WJHS teacher Nancy Wolfe at the WHS homecoming parade in October.

In addition, she received the honor of Waterloo teacher of the month for October. The district also recognized retirees with plaques during an awards breakfast May 19.

Limestall said she will miss the exuberant personalities of students and the fun activities she did in the classroom with them. Even as common core has changed the classroom structure during her years in the profession, she noted that kids stay the same.

“Kids are still kids,” she said. “They haven’t lost their excitability. They still want lots of big hugs, and they want to be loved.”

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Andrea F.D. Saathoff

Andrea is a graduate of Gibault High School and the University of Missouri School of Journalism, the University of Missouri Harry S Truman School of Public Affairs and Southern Illinois University Edwardsville College of Education. She lives in Columbia with her husband and their twin toddler sons. When she isn't cheering on St. Louis Cardinals baseball or riding the emotional roller coaster of Mizzou Tigers football, she enjoys attending and participating in the many family events the county has to offer. email:
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