Teaching....It runs in the Greisch family

A love of teaching and Port Washington is shared by Tim and Amy Greisch and their three daughters

The Greisch family at Port Washington High School (from left) Brynn, Sydney, Tim and Amy Greisch and Payton Katzer. Photo by Sam Arendt
Ozaukee Press staff

Tuesday will be a big day for the Greisch family.

On that day, Tim will begin his 30th year of teaching at Port Washington High School and his wife Amy will start her 29th year of teaching at Thomas Jefferson Middle School, the same school where where their daughter Payton will begin teaching seventh grade English language arts and social studies.

More teachers may be soon be coming from the Greisch family. Daughters Sydney and Brynn, both college students, are considering careers in education.

All five members of the family are graduates of Port Washington High School.

Both Tim and Amy still exhibit the enthusiasm for teaching that evidently influenced their children and will spring into action when the bell rings.

Amy, a math teacher, has a specific challenge given her subject matter. Many kids aren’t fans of math, so Amy sees it as her job to win them over. Much of the first week, she said, is spent getting to know her students.

“Middle-schoolers are great little people and it’s great to see the young adults they become in high school,” Amy said.

Tim, who teaches social studies, will be trying to reach his students any which way he can. A former coach of several sports, he keeps guitars in his room to try to connect with teens through music as well.

“Everything,” is his answer to what he likes about teaching. “Kids bring different energy every day.”

After Port High, Tim and Amy both earned their teaching certificates at Cardinal Stritch University in Milwaukee. They have lived in Port Washington for decades and enjoy being part of the community.

“The whole sense of community, it’s just a really neat thing,” Amy said. “Our dentist is a former student.”

Payton, 26, their oldest daughter, went to the University of Wisconsin-Madison and earned a rehabilitation psychology degree before realizing she wanted to teach. She went to Cardinal Stritch for her master’s degree and teaching certificate, and spent four years at Lakeshore Middle School in Mequon as a paraprofessional, special education and seventh grade teacher.

Payton said she loves “seeing how excited her parents still are about their jobs.”

When she received the offer for the middle school job, she said, “It felt like everything had come full circle. It felt very right. I knew I wanted to live here and be part of the community.”

Payton is married and will be known as Mrs. Katzer, and not Mrs. Greisch, so she can “kind of be incognito.”

Amy is delighted to have her daughter teaching a few doors down the hall from her classroom.

“I know her ability and her passion for education,” she said.

Their second daughter, Sydney, 23, started off with an interest in nursing and went into psychology. She did a summer internship at Port High near her father’s classroom. She earned an undergraduate degree in psychology and is now looking into a master’s program in psychology or teaching high school.

Their youngest child, Brynn, 20, took biomedical classes at Port High and was planning to be a pre-med student at UW-Madison. But then she realized she didn’t want to go to school for six years studying medicine. Now she is working toward a degree in Spanish and secondary education. This semester, she will be studying in Spain.

All three women had both of their parents as teachers. All five enjoyed it.

“Not very boisterous” is how Tim described his daughters in class, then added, “one was a little more boisterous,” after which Brynn promptly raised her hand.

For Amy, having her children and their friends in class made it easier to reach her goal of building relationships with her students.

The family’s educational roots in Port go back even further. Amy’s mother, Dianne Pfeffer, taught pre-school for years and had Sydney and Brynn as pupils. Her father, Bob Pfeffer, a retired physician, had a medical practice in Port Washington. Tim’s mother Lois taught in a one-room schoolhouse, while his father William ran a plumbing and heating business.

Tim and Amy have seen their fair share of changes in education, but much is still the same.

“I think kids are kids. The challenges are always there. There are just different challenges,” Tim said, adding that excuses have evolved from “my cat ate my homework” to “my Chromebook died.”

While not members of today’s computer generation, Tim and Amy have embraced technology. Tim even wrote a proposal in West Bend to replace textbooks with computers.

Both Tim and Amy would rather spend more time on relationships with children and less time in meetings and on assessment. For example, Amy said, “If somebody is having a bad day I need to make them smile.”

The family often provides food and clothing to children in need and once had a foster child live in their basement for a while. Their children were accepting.

“It just seemed like the right thing to do. We never thought twice about it,” Sydney said.

“We need to be grateful,” Payton said. “We live with great support. Not everybody has that.”

Tim said being there for students is one of his favorite parts of his career.

“Sometimes a kid dumping on you is the best thing,” he said.

For Amy, saying good morning to her students and seeing them smile back is the best part of her day.

Tim and Amy’s children have helped shape their approach.

“He tries extra hard to be the cool teacher. We’re his test run,” Brynn said of her father.

“He’s very trendy,” Payton said.

“These guys,” Tim said of his daughters, “keep us young and in tune with music and culture.”

The three daughters have, in turn, been influenced by their parents.

“Two big things are my mom’s positivity and my dad’s ability to seek out relationships with all students,” Payton said.



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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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