Walker’s Grove Elementary School physical education and heath teacher Steve Riederer is retiring after 45 years as an educator, including the last 42 in District 202.
Riederer, a Wisconsin native, graduated from the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse in 1973 and got his first job in Sandwich, Illinois.
He came to Plainfield three years later as a physical education teacher at Crystal Lawns Elementary School.
Riederer has spent the bulk of his career teaching at Walker’s Grove, coaching track and cross-country at then-Plainfield High School now Plainfield High School-Central Campus.
“When I came to Plainfield, it was really small and I really did want to give back and be a coach,” he said.
He has experienced a lot of change in his career.
Riederer lived through the 1990 tornado that ripped through Plainfield and helped spur the explosive growth of the late 1990s and early 2000s.
That disaster helped turn the once sleepy little town with one high school, one middle school and three grade schools into a Chicago suburb with 30 schools -- four traditional high schools, seven middle schools, 17 grade schools, a preschool and an alternative middle/high school.
He has seen shortened physical education classroom time and the addition of health as part of the physical education curriculum.
Riederer even taught at Walker’s Grove with his wife Celie for many years.
Through all the change, though, his love for teaching have never waned, Riederer said. “I’m going to miss the kids the most,” he said.
Riederer’s passion is coaching, and he has been lucky to coach both elementary and high school track and cross-country. He has been a strong supporter of the cross-country programs at all four District 202 high schools.
He is often at regional cross-country and track meets cheering on former students or officiating.
In 2015, the trophy for the district’s City Championship was renamed the Steve Riederer Cup in honor of his commitment to the sport districtwide.
Dana Olson has taught physical education and health with Riederer at Walker’s Grove for nine years.
Riederer’s ability to create relationships with students, teachers and the school community is his legacy, Olson said.
The veteran educator will go the extra mile to attend former students’ sporting events and will continue to mentor teachers even after they leave the district, Olson said.
He mails handwritten thank you notes to students, which students and parents love, she said.
“There is more to teaching than what is done in the classroom,” Olson said. “Everyone remembers how (Steve) treated them.”
Principal Jeff Schafermeyer said the entire school community wishes Riederer the best in his retirement. “We appreciate Steve’s dedication and commitment to the students, faculty and Walker’s Grove School Community,” he said.
Retirement won’t keep Riederer away for long. He plans to be around to officiate cross-country and track meets in his retirement.
Riederer said he plans to be back for Walker’s Grove Field Days and to help with Jump Rope for heart, a cause near and dear to his heart.
The school has raised almost $200,000 for the American Heart Association under Riederer’s leadership.
“Plainfield’s been really good to me, and I’ve come to really care about the community,” he said.