Rose Kloeppinger has begun a new chapter of her life.

After 33 years in education, including 25 years at Our Lady of Lourdes in Washington, Kloeppinger is now enjoying her first fall without teaching in a long time. She retired at the end of the last school year in May of 2012.

“It’s just now sinking in with school starting again,” Kloeppinger said. “I just knew in my heart it was time. Education has changed so much since I started teaching in 1978. There’s so much new technology with smart boards and iPads. It’s different now.”

Kloeppinger, 56 years of age, hails from Waterloo, Ill. She attended Gibault Catholic High School in Waterloo and Western Illinois University in Macomb.

Her first teaching job was at St. Paul High School in Highland, Ill., where she spent two years.

“My first year of teaching, I had a class of senior boys. I was 22 at the time, so I wasn’t much older than them. That was an interesting experience,” Kloeppinger said.

Kloeppinger then took a position teaching second grade at St. Joseph’s Grade School in Freeburg, Ill., where she spent six years.

After teaching eight years in her home state of Illinois, Kloeppinger made the move the Washington, Mo., where she began her career at Our Lady of Lourdes.

Kloeppinger taught some reading classes at Lourdes, but mostly was in the physical education department.

“When I came to Lourdes in 1986, the gymnasium was being built at the time. I was the first full-time PE teacher at Lourdes,” Kloeppinger said. “I have all kinds of memories. I really enjoyed it. When you’re teaching 3-year-olds to eighth-graders, there are a lot of things you have to do.

“One year I had to teach a class of 50 first-graders once a week. There were no teacher aides. I did it by myself. Talk about an experience. That’s how it was back in the day. This past year, I had eight kids in my first-grade class. I’ve had a lot of interesting experiences over the years.”

Kloeppinger did not coach any sports teams while at Lourdes, but she did during the first part of her career.

“I coached softball, cheerleading, basketball, soccer, track and field and volleyball for the first couple of years of my career,” Kloeppinger said.

Kloeppinger (nee Benyo), is one of seven children in her family, and the only female child. She has six brothers.

“Of the seven kids, four of us became teachers. Three of us are retired now,” she said. “My dad was a Catholic schoolteacher.”

Rose and her husband, Richard, have been married for 23 years. They have one son, 21-year-old Phil.

Richard, originally from south St. Louis, works for Alberici Construction in St. Louis as a carpenter.

The Kloeppinger family has lived in the same house on High Street in Washington since Rose and Richard have been married.

Rose Kloeppinger is excited about her retirement years.

“I’m looking forward to just relaxing and hopefully getting a part-time job,” she said. There are some things I’d like to do. I’ve been involved in summer camps. I was the West County Summer Camp director for three years before I got married. I really like being in charge of things like that. Maybe I can get into something like that again.

“I’d like to be a program director at a retirement home or an assisted living center a couple of days a week. And I’d also like to do some volunteer work.”

Kloeppinger remains active as her retirement days begin.

“I walk about three miles every day. I had knee replacement surgery in 2005 or 2006, so it feels good to walk,” Kloeppinger said. “I also enjoy reading. Hopefully I’ll have a part-time job lined up soon. I have a lot to offer.”