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Alumni Profile/Educator Recalls Keefe’s Influence

At 85 years old, and in her 60th year as an educator, Ann (Morneau) Hollenback ’56 has no plans for slowing down.

“I have five classes and a study. I’m full-time,” she says. “I haven’t thought about retiring.”

Hollenback, who has taught science at Notre Dame de la Baie Academy in Green Bay for the past 30 years, also held teaching stints at St. Norbert College and the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, and served as a teaching assistant at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

One of the things that keeps her in the classroom is feedback from former students.

“I had a voicemail message from a graduate,” she remembers. “He was out of breath. He had come from his biology class and had his first test. He said that he aced it and it was easier than any test I had given him.”

Though the average classroom has changed over Hollenback’s six decades as an educator, her teaching style has remained steady, she says. She modeled it after the style of her mentor and friend, the Rev. Anselm Keefe, Class of 1916. Hollenback had taken Keefe’s botany class in her first semester at St. Norbert.

“Father Keefe’s method of teaching was to wrap it around stories. With younger students, stories are even better. They have something to relate it to. The problem is the older I get the more stories I have to tell,” says Hollenback with a laugh. Hollenback arrived at St. Norbert in 1952, the first year the campus was co-ed. She earned degrees in chemistry and biology from St. Norbert at a time when few women pursued the sciences. She credits Keefe for setting her on her career path. “Before the first semester was over, I knew what I wanted to do and how I wanted to do it,” she says. “That was a gift. He was a gift in my life.”

Hollenback served as a lab assistant for and later taught with Keefe, which opened her up to a future in education. Keefe encouraged her to follow in his own footsteps and attend UW-Madison for graduate school.

“He was very influential,” says Hollenback. “It wasn’t until I met Father Keefe and saw what an influence he had on people’s lives that I thought, ‘I could do that.’ He was a big influence on lots of the decisions I made through the years. He really cared about students. He was just very talented. He was my mentor, my hero.”

Keeping in touch
alumprofile_inline210.jpgAs a student at St. Norbert, Ann (Morneau) Hollenback ’56 worked closely with the Rev. Anselm Keefe, Class of 1916 (pictured above with Hollenback in 1956). She served as a lab assistant and later taught with him.

Keefe was just one of the well-known SNC figures with whom Hollenback worked. She returned to campus after graduation, working during the 1970s and 1980s with the Theological Institute, a program for ongoing theological education directed by the Rt. Rev. Joel Garner ’62.

Hollenback also spent time assisting Dudley Birder with auditions for the St. Norbert College music theatre program. Among her most memorable auditions was for a production of “The Wizard of Oz”: “We auditioned for Toto’s position,” says Hollenback. “We had dogs lined up all around the theatre. People brought their dogs from all over the place. A dog came from Neenah with a four-page résumé. Dudley was great with casting.”


March 17, 2020