St. Joseph Academy 1971
2020 Academic Division: Arts
Teresa (McMonagle) Schmidt is fortunate to be the oldest of Rosemary and Robert McMonagle’s 12 children. She was the first of six daughters to attend St. Joseph Academy. Her six brothers went to Abbot Pennings High School. At SJA she enjoyed singing in choir and Madrigals. She loved being in the cast of two Abbot Pennings’ shows: Bye Bye Birdie and Finian’s Rainbow. During her junior year she sang in a Fall Choral Festival under the direction of Dudley Birder. That experience helped her decide to attend St. Norbert College where she received her Bachelor of Music degree.
At St. Norbert she was a member of the Swinging Knights and the Chamber Singers. It was amidst that dancing and singing that she met her future husband, Fred. She also performed in two musicals at SNC – The Mikado and as Dulcie in The Boyfriend. These years of Catholic education were an important and influential part of her upbringing – she thanks her parents for providing the opportunity and for all their hard work.
After graduating from SNC in 1975 she took her first job in Mosinee at St. Paul’s Catholic Grade School where she was the school Music Teacher for grades K-8. While there, she directed her first musical performed by the 8th graders. Next year she interviewed for the Choral position at her alma mater, ultimately replacing her own high school choral director. She taught at St. Joseph Academy for six years. She co-directed “The Guys and Gals” Swing Choir with the choral director at Abbot Pennings. During her first year she choral directed Babes in Toyland alongside Dudley Birder. She continued on to direct five more musicals at SJA!
After these seven fulfilling years of teaching, Teresa decided to stay home with her three children. This busy second career lasted 11 years. While at home she continued in music by giving voice lessons in her living room, cantoring at her church and directing three shows for Next Door Theatre.
When Teresa turned 40, a job opened up at the then four-year-old Notre Dame Academy and she began her third career. For 19 years she enjoyed her part-time position which included taking her students on bi-annual choir trips. Those musically focused trips took them to Philadelphia, Charleston, Boston, Canada, South Carolina and twice each to Disney World and New York City. In 2013, she directed her students in a performance at Carnegie Hall! She proudly directed the Swing Choir and the annual school musical. She also directed two Alumni Reunion Concerts, including singers from SJA, APHS, PHS and NDA.
Since her departure from NDA and teaching high school, Teresa has continued to find outlets for her love of choral music. She conducts the choir for the annual Doctors in Recital fundraising show and since 2018 has been working with St. John’s Homeless Shelter, directing a choir of the shelter’s guests to perform during their fundraising gala.
Teresa is overjoyed to continue with her love of high school students and their musicals by being one of the judges for the Center Stage Awards honoring Northeast Wisconsin high school musicals and their students. But her most exciting project has been her role as the Artistic Director of the Next Stage program, working with a creative and collaborative artistic team in a trusting atmosphere with the support of St. Norbert College. Through Next Stage, high school students from over thirty Northeast Wisconsin high schools audition to participate in a summer college-level musical theatre experience. This summer would have been their sixth production. She’s looking forward to many more in the future!