By J1 Reporters Allie Morrissey and Lauren Novacek
It’s a Friday morning, and the 7:50 bell has yet to ring. Your classmates are sitting in their hallway enjoying their morning coffee and breakfast. You’re about to take a bite of your delicious muffin when you hear someone yell, “Red alert! Red alert! Mo is walking down the hallway!”
Who is Mo, you may ask? She’s the Dean of Discipline and beloved gym teacher, but many of you may know her as the woman who hands out those dreaded, yellow slips, otherwise known as points. Little do you know, there is so much more to her than this.
Ms. Ronda Motykowski, commonly referred to as Ms. Mo, is an only child who grew up in Omaha with a Catholic education and attended St. Alberts, which closed the year after she graduated. Not only was she not considering Marian as her choice of high school, but she had never even heard of it until her dentist recommended it to her parents because of their elite athletic program.
While at Marian, Mo played volleyball, was on the Class A All-State team for basketball, ran track, and was a prom princess.
Mo still holds the shot put record for track, and three years ago, senior Katelyn Gochenour broke Ms. Mo’s discus record. “I was never a bad kid, but if my shirts were dirty, I’d wear a spirit shirt on a Thursday or Friday knowing I’d get points,” Ms. Mo said.
After graduating in 1980, Ms. Mo attended the University of Nebraska-Omaha. She changed her major three times, but ultimately ended up majoring in education. Because of this, it took Mo six years to graduate and another five years to find a job.
Marian was her third teaching job, and in 1997, Mo took over the position of Miss Bobbie Bartholet, her former gym teacher and the woman who inspired her to pursue education. She initially taught gym classes and coached both volleyball and basketball.
After two years at Marian, Ms. Mo was invited to sit in on the review board. Ms. Betsy Kish, the principal at the time, thought that Mo would make the perfect fit for the Dean of Discipline, a new position at Marian. This would be the beginning of Mo’s career as the “Dean of Doom.”
There’s so much more to Mo than just the “Dean of Doom,” though. She is a passionate and caring educator who focuses on the well-being and success of her students.
Mo shared a story about a student who was on probation because of the excessive amount of points she had received due to tardies. During her junior year of high school, she hit the limit once again and the punishment was expulsion.
Exceptions were rare, but after the student wrote a two page letter to Mo promising to never receive another point, Mo decided to give her one last shot. Holding true to her promise, this Marian girl never received another point. She touched Mo’s heart and this memory will forever remain.
Over the years, Ms. Mo has made quite the impact on the Marian community. Sophomore Ashtynne Alberts has been on Marian’s junior varsity volleyball team and has had Mo as her coach for the past two years. “She’s tough, but she’s constantly pushing us to work our hardest,” Alberts said.
Social Studies teacher, Mr. Tom Baker, has been teaching at Marian and has watched Mo advance from student, to coach, to teacher, to Dean of Discipline. “If you look at Ronda, you’ll find a person who will encourage people to achieve their best, and I believe that her ability to work with those students with disciplinary issues is a great example of that.”
Mo flashed back to her first year teaching at Marian. She was the study hall teacher in the quad, and there was a very loud, obnoxious girl in her class. She decided that the girl was being too disruptive and disrespectful, so Mo wrote her very first point ever. A few years after the Marian girl had graduated, Mo stumbled across her name in the paper because she had passed away from cancer. The second point Mo ever wrote was to a girl who had already had nineteen points. The point Mo gave her was her twentieth, so she was expelled.
Back before Marian changed their uniforms in 2011, the school shirts didn’t have that handy band on the bottom of them, so the most frequent point given was for untucked shirts. Now, tardies and iPad misusage tie for that No. 1 spot.
Marian has been the perfect fit for Ms. Mo. “I look forward to this job every day. I don’t even consider it a job. These are all my kids and these are all my friends. It’s really an enjoyable thing I do.”
After being a student and a teacher at Marian, Mo has experienced her fair share of Field Days. Her Field Day themes were: Freshman Fleas, Sophomore Squaws, Junior Geniuses, and Senior Wranglers. Sadly, the only time she ever won was her junior year. Mo’s favorite themes have been Senior Connections from 1979 and more recently, Juniors in Bloom from 2010. In her opinion, the worst theme ever done was Senior Teeth in 1977. The class dressed up as teeth, and their demo consisted of them flossing themselves.
Of course Field Day isn’t the only Marian tradition. Mo also loves the Halloween movie because it was also around when she was in school. One year, they watched “Young Frankenstein”, a movie that wasn’t exactly school appropriate. During the film, the girls kept turning around and looking at the nun’s reactions to the movie, and the looks they were seeing weren’t too pleasant.
Outside of school, Mo loves getting together with friends for a potluck dinner and board games. “It’s kind of dorky, but I love Chicken Legs. It’s a version of Dominos.” She also loves to go on little jaunts and discover hidden treasures in Nebraska. Mo recently visited Ashfall Fossil Beds State Historical Park, which is up near the Nebraska-South Dakota border.
She will never stop being a guide and helping hand for all Marian students. Yes, she is the Dean of Discipline and is responsible for handling all discipline matters, but she is also a teacher, coach, and role model for the entire Marian community.