An Iola-Scandinavia High School alumni is now a member of the Neenah Joint School District Quarter Century Club.
Diane (Venzke) Doersch graduated from I-S High School in 1982 and was recently inducted into the club.
"I am very proud and honored to be a Neenah Rocket," Doersch said. "For someone to choose to work in the same place for 25 years says a lot about the school system. Neenah truly has a passion for excellence; that's our motto."
As Doersch reflected on her childhood school days, she said Bill Westphal, her fifth-grade teacher, was very influential in her life.
"Mr. Westphal and I had a connection. He was the first one to see the talent and potential within me. He helped me think of myself as a person who can achieve anything," she said
After having her first child while still in high school, Doersch realized her calling to teach.
"I knew that it was a huge role to be an influential force in the life of a child; parenthood at a young age taught me that," Doersch said."I decided that empowering children to change the world was the way I wanted to leave my legacy."
Hard work has made her the educator she is today.
"I grew up on a farm. Farm life helped me acquire a work ethic that drives me to do the best I can be in any situation."
Her natural curiosity always kept her going.
"Being an only child I became highly reflective, inquisitive and a life-long learner. I always had plenty of time on my hands to explore, construct and create. I learned cause and effect through tinkering on the farm," she said. "That curiosity brought me to education, as it is always fun to learn something new and pass it on to others."
A native of Thailand, Doersch came to the United States when she was 1 year old.
"My adoptive parents raised me in a good Christian home with morals and values," she said. "I am appreciative for everything I have and for the education and opportunities that have been afforded to me in America. Having respect for everybody's diverse backgrounds, honoring their spirit and appreciating people for who they are and who they will be are values that are close to my heart and have always resonated in my teaching."
Doersch also gives credit to her classmates for her success as an adult.
"I was elected class president in 1982. Through that experience, I learned early what it takes to be a leader and that has been a part of me ever since," she said.
Doersch is also grateful for such teachers as Bill Lund, Tom Sanders and Barb and Ken Zwickey, because they prepared her for higher education.
Now serving as the director of instructional technology for Neenah Joint School District, Doersch said, "Summer time is the busiest time of year in our field. Last year, we piloted programs with students and iPads at the fifth and sixth-grade level. This upcoming year, we are increasing our fleet of over 500 iPads by adding over 1,700 new iPads and laptops. Making all of this happen requires solid planning by my department."
Doersch is heading the work on infrastructure and helps ensure that "we have a solid network with robust wireless coverage for the devices. I'm also in charge of creating summer technology professional development for our staff."
Superintendent Mary Pfeiffer said, "Diane is extremely dedicated and supportive. She has been instrumental in providing advanced professional learning to our staff. She continues to be a learner and a teacher in our district."
Pfeiffer added, "In addition to her passion and commitment, she also provides learning experiences to community members."
The Quarter Century Club has a long history in the district.
Doersch was inducted into the club in May.
"It's hard to believe I have been here that long. People often ask me if these are tough times in education. In educational technology, it's one of the best times to be in the field. We can change the landscape of the traditional classroom into a robust and engaging environment where the world is at our students' fingertips. Who wouldn't want to have that kind of impression on the future?" she said.
Doersch and her husband Dean live in Neenah and have four children. Her parents are Dawn and Donald Wasrud, Iola, and Ray and Demaris Venzke, Helena, Mont.
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