Three years as a substitute teacher and coach. Five years as a third grade teacher. 27 years as a principal. It is hard to estimate, but calculations show Oralee (Ore) Schock has easily impacted the lives of 3,120 students and for the first time in 35 years, Schock is not preparing for school this fall. Schock announced her retirement at the end of the 2020/2021 school year.
Schock grew up in Amery, graduating with the Class of 1976. She attended U.W. La Crosse for her undergraduate studies, double majoring in Health and Physical Education. After graduation she returned to Amery with every intention of heading back to La Crosse. While in Amery she started substitute teaching and coaching. “Phy. Ed. teachers were a dime a dozen,” said Schock. She said she didn’t think about the fact that one elementary school for example has one gym teacher, compared to many classroom teachers. Her subbing and coaching gig lasted about three years when she realized she needed to head back to school and get her classroom degree. Schock attended Augsburg and was very encouraged by her mother, who had spent many years teaching. Schock’s mother spent a few years teaching all eight grades in a one-room school house, but had spent a majority of her career as a first grade teacher.
In 1987, Schock was hired as a third grade teacher at Lien Elementary where her mother worked. It was her first year as a full-time teacher and her mother’s last. “It was really special,” said Schock.
She taught third grade for five years before switching gears a bit. “Starting in about year three, I knew I wanted to do more. I felt like teachers needed a voice. It was an old regime of you have to do every workbook page and I liked the idea of taking the kids outside to learn,” Schock said.
She chose Superior for obtaining her Administrative license. Schock said, “I choose Superior because they offered night classes in Eau Claire. It took me two years and summer school.”
During this time a few stars were starting to line up. It was August of 1992 and The School District of Amery had decided to open an Intermediate school, where Cheryl Meyer was slated to be principal. Shortly after, Carol Erickson, the principal at Lien Elementary had announced she was leaving.
“I was up in Superior tenting it and Kay Erickson who was a fourth grade teacher, in fact she was my former fourth grade teacher, got ahold of me through my parents. She told me Cheryl had decided to take the job at Lien instead of the Intermediate.”
Erickson encouraged Schock to apply for the principal position at the newly formed Lakeview Intermediate, but Schock was hesitant as she didn’t quite yet have her license. Erickson told her she really thought she should go for it. “So I did, and I got it,” said Schock.
“I got married on August 2, hired August 10 and school started August 18. It was a lot,” she said.
Schock was at Lakeview Intermediate, located in Amery’s old downtown school, for 11 years. “I learned a lot on the job. Being downtown we were kind of like the forgotten child because everyone else’s buildings were over on the campus. They never thought we would be there for that many years, they thought it would be three to five, so they didn’t want to put a lot of money into the building. This enabled us to do things we would have been able to otherwise, like putting kids’ painted handprints on the wall. It was very fun to be down there, and we were a small close-knit staff. It was also neat to be in my old building where we had graduated as the last class from that school,” said Schock.
She enjoyed the input she and teachers were able to put into the new Intermediate school being built. “Downtown had been very dark. Windows were covered as they were inefficient. When we designed the new school, we added many windows and set it up differently and it was really cool,” said Schock.
She said one of the hardest things she faced during her career as a principal was budget, but she had a difficult time coming up with much more than that, as there were so many more wonderful times during her career than tough times.
She has many reasons she was proud to work for the School District of Amery throughout the years. Schock said, “Our kids do so well. We can send them all over. We have so many different things we offer. We have diversified programs. I am so proud of what we can offer kids and that they can go anywhere and be successful.”
When asked what she is going to miss most, with tear-filled eyes, she was able to mutter out the words, “The kids.” She said she did what she did everyday simply because, “They were my life.”
She explained this summer it has been a little challenging trying to find herself after so many years of being “Ms. Schock” but it was time to move on. She feels she has left the school in amazing hands. “It isn’t about me being worried about what will happen now at the school, it is about when you put 35 years into something and you walk away, it is really sad.”
Not being someone who can sit still, Schock sits on a few volunteer boards she would like to devote more time to. She also has some trips planned.
As far as a parting message to her past students, Schock said, “The sky is the limit. We gave you a great base, don’t be afraid, be strong and continue making us proud.”