Holy Name School has announced the retirement of Connie Wingren, who has served as principal for the past five years and served as kindergarten teacher for many more years before that.
Connie moved to Ketchikan in 1967 as a kindergarten teacher for “Old Main” school. She became a member of Holy Name Parish, then located downtown, where she also taught Sunday school for the preschool and kindergarten children.
Her teaching career went on hiatus after she met Jim Wingren and married in January of 1969, in order to raise a family. From 1973 to 1980 Connie tutored students from Holy Name. For many of those years the children would walk to her home and spend about an hour working on reading or math. These children have always played a special part in Connie’s life as they have all become successful adults.
In 1979, Connie began to think about having a kindergarten program at Holy Name. Her two oldest children were attending Holy Name and her youngest would begin in the fall. With much prayer preceding, she said that she would volunteer for a couple of years to financially assist the school. These “couple” of years turned to seven years, and, she says, they were some of the most rewarding years of her career as a teacher. The special part is that the children she taught now have children of their own attending Holy Name.
In 1987, in order to help pay for their children to go to college, Connie needed to transfer to the public school district. There she spent a couple of years as a long term substitute teacher, mostly in the high school. She then taught 7th and 8th grade health at Schoenbar Middle School. The following year she started teaching at Houghtaling Elementary, first a year of 5th grade and a year in 6th grade. When the position for a kindergarten teacher came open she took that job, and remained at Houghtaling until 2009. All the while, the one thing that she sought was to bring the love and respect to all children that she was so fully able to do at Holy Name.
When Connie retired from the public school system she came back to Holy Name, this time as the principal. “I feel that life has made a full circle bringing me back to Holy Name,” she says, and is grateful that “God is the focus of each day for the children and for me.” She looks back on many rewards during her 13 years at Holy Name, principal among them being the opportunity to see many children become successful adults and having been able to bring God into their lives.
The previous pastor of Holy Name, Father Edmund Penisten, calls Connie “the best hire I ever made.” The present pastor considers her one of the most generous women he has ever met.
Connie and Jim have been married for 45 years. They have both been very active members of the church, serving on pastoral and finance councils, in liturgical ministries, prison ministry, and marriage preparation. They look forward to a full life ahead and plan on remaining active members of Holy Name. As Connie puts it, “God has given us the gift of each day and with that gift we want to be able to share God’s love with all we meet.”