Brenda Anderson has heard the knock several times throughout her teaching career, but recently she answered the call to be principal at St. Lawrence School in Milbank. “It was God knocking on my door and He who brought me here,” said Anderson, who officially started in her new position July 1.
Anderson was initially approached with the idea by Father Gary in October 2013, about a month before she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Once she was diagnosed, she declined the job, but Father Gary continued to extend his offer. “The timing was never right until now,” she said.
Other than one year in Cokato, MN, Anderson has spent her entire teaching career at St Lawrence. She taught first grade for 14 years, fourth grade for seven, and then moved to kindergarten. She explained that one day at a meeting former principal Sherry Monson asked the staff for a volunteer to switch to kindergarten. No one raised their hand. She went home and mulled it over, later telling Monson, “if I am the best fit, then I’m up for the challenge.” “I surprised myself,” she expressed. “I left her office thinking ‘Did that just come out of my mouth?'”
Anderson spent the next three years as the kindergarten teacher and said she would not exchange that time for anything. “Those children and their families are truly what got me to where I am today.” “Yes, there was help with my cancer from doctors and medicine, but I never would have gotten through it without all the prayers from those children and the healing touch of God.” Along with her duties as principal, Anderson will also be teaching some of the afternoon pre-school classes. “I’m very excited,” she beamed.
Anderson received a clean bill of health a year after her diagnosis and is back to walking, running, and participating in 5K races. She identified the steadfast support of her husband, Bryan, and her three children, Sarah, Devin and Jake, as key throughout her journey to recovery and beyond. “Stepping into this new position as principal is no exception,” she shared. “They want me to do whatever makes me happy.” That, she says, is what she gets from St Lawrence School, the staff, the families, and especially the children – pure happiness.
“It’s funny, because often the younger children think Father Gary is God when they see him at Mass and in the hallways at school, ” she joked. “So, I guess it really was God calling me in more ways than one.”