“You know how some people are just born to be educators? She’s one of them.”
Michelle Wick practically beams when talking about her daughter Emily Wick, who Saturday will be among nearly 1,000 new graduates of the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh.
Michelle knows a bit about natural born teachers. She herself works as the library media specialist at Meadowbrook Elementary School near Green Bay and in 2006 earned an educational leadership master’s degree from UW Oshkosh. She also has teachers scattered about her family tree—including her grandmother, who studied education at UWO back when it was known as Oshkosh State Teachers College. That grandmother—Emily’s great-grandmother—was part of the school’s class of 1940. She studied in Oshkosh for a year in order to secure a five-year license, and attended class at a time when the faculty roster included names like Polk, Dempsey, Fletcher and Halsey.
“My grandma loved life, loved her family and was very proud of the education world and being a part of it,” Michelle said. “She truly was like the heart of our family.”
That grandma, Irene Bricco VanAdestine, died in 2011, when her great-granddaughter and future College of Education and Human Services grad was still in middle school, but her passion for education carries on through her loved ones. Emily, who’ll be handed her diploma about 82 years after her great-grandma did on the same campus, hopes that by next fall she’ll be teaching social studies in or around her hometown of Green Bay.
It’s no surprise Emily said growing up she always knew she’d be a teacher. To get her degree, there also wasn’t much debate on where she’d go to college. Of the many teachers in her family, a majority of them are UWO educated. Still, the young girl who grew up hearing stories of great-grandma Irene teaching in a one-room schoolhouse—where she taught eight grades plus music and art, kept the place clean and the fires burning—cited family tradition as just one of many reasons she chose to be a Titan.
“I just felt like Oshkosh was the perfect fit for me,” she remembered. “When I toured it I really liked the campus and I’ve had some cousins go there who really enjoyed it and some other friends who also really enjoyed it. I just loved the layout, the size of it. I just really loved my tour when I visited and I just really wanted to go there.”
She made the right choice. Not only is she feeling set up for a long and successful career, she’s had fun and enlightening adventures along the way: In May she took part in a two-week study abroad trip in Germany and the Czech Republic. She visited sites connected to Cold War and World War II history, including concentration camps and the Berlin Wall. She’s already been able to talk about her experiences with students, including during her current student-teaching placement in West De Pere High School.
Besides her great-grandmother, Emily had at least six other relatives on that side of her family graduate from UWO and work in education. That’s a lot of teachers—and countless lives impacted over many generations.
So for her mom, Michelle, there are many reasons to be proud as Emily prepares for her next move. Not that a mother needs any extras on the day her daughter follows in her footsteps, becoming a college graduate headed for a career in education.
“I am incredibly proud of her,” Michelle said. “She is a natural teacher. Every day we talk about what she did, what she taught, how it went, and I’m just so proud of her.”