Judy Steeber, retired Rockford Elementary School teacher, has seen some of her former kindergarten students grow up to be Rockford Royalty (Ambassador) candidates, and she drove a car for Doug and Marsha White when they served as grand marshals for the Rockford River Days Grand Parade a couple of years ago.
This year attention will be focused upon Steeber. The River Days Committee has chosen her to serve as grand marshal and lead the River Days Parade, beginning at noon, Sunday, Aug. 10.
“This is an unexpected honor,” she said. “I am not a person who likes to be in the limelight. I’m a doer and an organizer. I like to plan events and to get people together.”
She added, “A lot has gone on. It’s been good. I’ve met a lot of wonderful people and had great experiences seeing people’s joy in participating. I’ve had fun seeing former students, what they’re doing and their successes.”
Steeber’s adult life has revolved around children, parents and families in whatever she does. A graduate of Albany High School, she holds a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and a masters degree in early childhood special education. She retired in 2008 from a 37-year teaching career spent entirely at Rockford Elementary.
Her interest in kids and families rippled from the school out into the community. The annual Rockford community celebration has been “my summer fun.” She has been involved “off and on” since the early 1980s, when the celebration was called Rockford Dog Days. At different times,she helped with children’s games, the parade line-up and driving seniors in the parade. “I had a red convertible,” she said. “I wish I had that car now.”
For 10 years Steeber also worked with the Rockford Queen program, which now is the Rockford Ambassador scholarship program.
Summer also has been Steeber’s time to be involved with kids outside of the regular school setting. In the 70s she volunteered with the summer long tot lot program. Later on she helped set up the Rockford Area Athletic Association and helped the girls softball program get going.
Here involvement with Rockford Schools has included serving on the Community Education Board. She also was involved with early childhood pre-school screening and the pre-school and family program that became Early Childhood and Family Education. And much more.
Steeber might be considered a pioneer in Rockford because she was involved in starting up all day every day kindergarten at Rockford Elementary in 2003 – 2004. Parents paid tuition for their children. The program went away for awhile and returned tuition free with the arrival of Superintendent of Schools Paul Durand. After that the Minnesota State Legislature decided to support all day every day kindergarten.
She extended her interest in children to Sts. Peter and Paul Church in Loretto, where she has been involved with preschool and kindergarten Sunday religious education, youth choir, youth group, confirmation education and vacation Bible school. She also has coordinated parish funeral luncheons.
In 2008 Steeber retired from teaching to focus on care giving for several family members who have had health issues. Earlier this year she lost her husband to cancer.
For the past three to five years she has helped out in the community where she could and done some substitute teaching. Right now she is happy to take a breather, hang out and get things done at home. And she is staying close with friends. “I am very fortunate,” she said. “I have strong family support and strong friends.”
Marcy Shaffer was a second and third grade teacher at Rockford Elementary during Steeber’s teaching career. Shaffer said about her friend, “She deserves every bit of recognition for everything she has done for the school district, students, parents and fellow staff members.”
Another friend said, “She’s always there.”
Contact Susan Van Cleaf at [email protected]