A special gift

Kenny McCarthy, a member of the Milton High School Class of 2018, drew this photo of Mari Sroda when he was a tutor in her program.

Milton High School Support for Success Teacher and Coordinator Mari Sroda described herself, over the span of her 32-year career, as having varying roles and responsibilities within the Milton school district.

“I’ve taught at just about every building in the district and nearly every grade in some form,” she said.

Retired as of June, Sroda said she looks forward to traveling with her husband, Mike, who is also retiring from teaching.

“My heart is full of gratitude for all the students I have had in my life because they have left a lovely imprint on my heart,” she said.

She began her career in Milton in 1987, working with first-graders, she said, and ended it working with high school students. Over the years, she has served in the classroom, and in learning support, reading intervention and ELL (English language learners) roles. She helped initiate the Support for Success mentoring program 11 years ago, she said. The program focuses on matching high school freshmen with “academically successful” upperclassmen, she added.

Sroda also served as an advisor to the yoga and meditation clubs, and the Caritas for Children Club, which, she said, focused on helping children living in poverty. She is a certified yoga and meditation instructor, she said, adding that she plans to continue to teach yoga classes at the YMCA.

“As far back as I can remember, I wanted to teach,” Sroda said.

As an educator, she hopes people will understand that teaching is a lifestyle, she said, adding: “I think most every educator would agree that teaching, when done right, is full of hidden challenges and hard work that may not often be noticed or appreciated. Teachers aren’t in this field for the recognition. When kids and their families open up and let you into their hearts and let you serve them, it is such an honor.”

While Sroda lives in Janesville, she said she has considered moving out of state to be closer to her children.

Sroda grew up in West Allis. She received her undergraduate degree from UW-Stevens Point in education, and her master’s degree from UW-Whitewater, also in education.

She hopes her students have learned “their tremendous value and their worth,” she said.

She hopes her students remember her “as a positive force who truly saw the goodness and greatness in my students,” she said.

Of the Milton school district, she said: “My heart will always be with the diverse group of students I have worked with through the years. I hope I have touched their lives as much as they have touched and enriched mine.”

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