FRONTENAC — Three and a half decades is a long time to dedicate your life to a single endeavor. Yet, for 35 years Rosie Borchardt — known as Mrs. B to her students — has nurtured the kids at Frontenac schools.
Borchardt taught the classes kids opened up in, High School English, Newspaper, and Drama among many others. Through those social classes she became the bedrock many of her students came to depend on.
"Rosie is the smile that has lit up Frontenac for years." Cassie Rhuems said.
Rhuems a teacher and coach at Frontenac was also a student of Borchardt. "She has a heart of gold and loves her students like her own." Rhuems said.
The sentiment is echoed by Borchardt.
"When I was teaching my own children were growing up as well, so I could see it from a parent’s point of view," she said. "I really cared. I never bluffed it. Every student needs someone at school that cares.
"I tried to be that as much as possible, for as many kids as possible."
Borchardt, a heavy traveler, said she was deeply driven to make education fun for her students. She often used her experiences in the classroom, visiting places set in books or plays she was teaching to better bring it to life for her students.
"My goal every day was to make them smile," Borchardt said.
"To make them see we needed to get the job done but learning could be fun.
"So I traveled a lot. I saw slums. I saw the Liberty Bell. I went to Mexico. I wanted to be able to bring it to life for them any way I could."
Although the years were not without trials, one Borchardt said changed her and her teaching style.
"I was on the crisis team," she said. "Losing a student changes you. We had a wreck where we lost three sophomores. The next day many of the kids just picked my classroom to grieve in, to come to.
"It was incredibly hard for me to keep myself together, but we helped each other. I don't take days or time for granted. I tell my students that."
Borchardt’s influence goes beyond the classroom according to city councilman Ethan Spurling.
"She's an icon," Spurling said. "Not just of the school but also the community. You'd be hard pressed to find someone in Frontenac whose lives haven't been touched by her."
School board member Seth Nutt agreed
"Rosie has made a lasting impression on FHS and has touched the lives of so many students," he said. "Including myself."
Sonny Zafuta another of Borchardt's colleagues said the bond spans generations now.
"I was taught by Rosie, and now my son is," Zafuta said. "I love hearing them telling me how cool she is, because I thought the same thing. We just love her."
The warmth appears to go both ways with Borchardt describing the small Frontenac community as a "wonder in its support" and the school as her second extended family.
"I was a Bulldog, and then a Gorilla," she said. "But I will always be a Raider.'
There will be a retirement party for Borchardt from 2 to 4 p.m, Thursday in the Frontenac High School. Past students are welcome to attend.