There is a saying that you can never go back again, but for St. John the Baptist alumna, Lauren Kocher, going back to the Alden elementary school was always her intent.
As a recent graduate of Medaille College, Kocher student taught at St. John's this past spring and was recently named to the faculty as the new kindergarten teacher. Kocher's degree in Early Childhood and Childhood Education covers the educational needs from birth to sixth-grade.
Kocher will be teaching in the same kindergarten classroom and from behind the very desk she learned from so many years ago. "It was definity different being on the other end," said Kocher. "I went there from kindergarten to eighth-grade."
At a young age, Kocher knew she wanted to be a teacher. "Honestly, every since I was little I wanted to be a teacher," said Kocher. She would play school in the basement and teach her sister.
Kocher considers the sense of community, her main reason for wanting to go back to St. John's. Her parents, Darlene and David Kocher, were heavily involved in the school community from when her older sister, Lindsey, started until the youngest, Anne, left. Kocher's parents headed up the sports program at the school. Kocher herself was involved in sports, playing basketball while in kindergarten. "It was a very family-oriented place," Kocher said.
While Kocher credits all of the teachers for helping her succeed, she has two that stand out. Kocher considers her fourth-grade teacher Angela Behrend, "the reason I wanted to become a teacher." Behrend stayed after class with her and helped her through different challenges.
"She was a hard working, dedicated student at the age of 10," Behrend said. "Lauren has always possessed a very loving, caring, and enthusiastic presence."
Kocher's third-grade teacher, Elaine Nuwer, served as a mentor while Kocher was a student teacher. Nuwer worked with Kocher on her lesson plans and developing STREAM education.
Kocher considers St. John's the foundation that helped build her into the person she is today. "It's probably one of the best things that could ever happen to me in my life. Because it brought me up and made me the person I am today," said Kocher. "It was my way of giving back."
Principal Jonna Johnson observed Kocher while she was student teaching and knew that she would be a great fit for the school. Johnson found Kocher was receptive to any notes she was given and willing to grow in her profession.
"This is the type of teacher you like working with," Johnson said.
Behrend agreed that Kocher is the type of teacher needed in a classroom.
"She is the epitome of what a teacher should be and so proud to say that she was once a student of mine." Behrend said.
Kocher wants to relate her experience growing up at St. John's to her current students. She hopes that the students have the same experience she had and that she can instill in each of them a love and desire for education.
"I want them to look back and have them remember their experience in school," said Kocher. "You want them to come school. You want them to want to be there, want to come back and want to learn, to love school."