Lois Genson-Sanders started reading when she was just 4 and shared that love with the many students she taught.
She taught a total of 30 years – 26 of them in the Weyauwega-Fremont School District – and has retired.
“I guess I’ve been lucky enough to go to school every day of my life and learn something,” said Genson-Sanders, who taught English and reading at the high school.
When she was growing up in Milwaukee, English and reading were her favorite subjects.
“My third-grade teacher was a sister of Notre Dame. She just celebrated her 60th year as a nun,” Genson-Sanders said. “She has always been an inspiration to me. When I was in third grade, it was her first year of teaching. I was a very good reader. Every Friday, I would have to stand up in front of the class and read from a book. I did love to read, and she really supported that love of reading.”
Genson-Sanders skipped fourth grade and was 17 when she graduated from high school.
“I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do but knew I wanted to be somewhere in the teaching profession,” she said.
She double majored in English and psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison so that she would have the opportunity to either be a teacher or a guidance counselor.
She chose teaching and also has a master’s degree in reading education from UW-Oshkosh.
Genson-Sanders lived in Madison for 10 years before moving to Waushara County in the late 1970s.
She and her husband, Keith, love living in this area of the state. They raise Arabian horses and German short-haired pointer dogs. And, like her son Steve, Genson-Sanders likes musky fishing. Steve is a professional musky fisherman and the co-host of “Keyes Outdoors” on Fox Sports Net North.
Genson-Sanders taught several years in the Berlin Catholic school system and part time in Oshkosh before joining the W-F district.
In these days of high-tech devices, she believed in doing some things old school.
She encouraged reading and continued to give her students a reading grade.
“I encourage students to read what they’re interested in,” she said.
Genson-Sanders also told her students that it was all right if they started a book, found they did not like it and did not want to finish it.
While there were countless changes in technology during her tenure as a teacher, there were other things that did not change so much.
“Kids love books about real-life things,” she said.
The favorite books among her students were Go Ask Alice and The Boy Who Drank Too Much, she said.
Teens do not read as much as they used to, Genson-Sanders said, and she remembers what one of her professors, Michael Ford, said when she was studying for her master’s degree. What he said was, “We read so that we know we are not alone,” Genson-Sanders said.
As a teacher, she kept an eye on what her students were interested in, and when there was a particular series of books that her students liked, she made sure she had all of the books in that series.
One series that did get young people reading again was J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. Genson-Sanders said the books woke up the imaginations of children.
During her years of teaching, Genson-Sanders encouraged independent reading.
Several years ago, she trained on Read 180, which is a program made up of various components to help students who are having problems with reading.
“It’s been a real successful program,” she said. “We’re moving it up to our middle school next year.”
Genson-Sanders reads as much as she can and always listened to audiobooks during her 30-minute commute to and from school.
It’s her hope that the students take her love of reading from her and that those who someday become parents, read to their own children.
She says it is important that young people pursue their interests and talents. She did. “They’re my favorite subjects,” she said of what she taught for 30 years.