In more than 50 years of Union Catholic history, there are but a handful of people who can be considered UC legends. Mrs. Bette Schnitzer is unquestionably one of those. Her legendary persona developed much as her name and her hairstyles evolved over time. She arrived at Union Catholic as Mrs. Elizabeth Schnitzer, but became better known as Mrs. Bette Schnitzer. A decade or so later, she was lovingly referred to by the students as “Mrs. S.” By the time she retired in June of 1998, she had achieved rock-star status and was identified by just a single letter – “S”.
The name progression was representative of her ability to move with the times and to adapt to changes. “S” was the first lay teacher hired by Union Catholic Girls High School. She accepted a position as Physical Education teacher in a school building that did not yet have a gymnasium. The first physical education classes were held in Room 110, where the girls learned dances like the polka and the tarantella. The outdoor exercise regime consisted of running up and down the piles of construction dirt. “S” managed to borrow equipment from local schools so that the girls could learn gymnastics. To quote an article in the June 1966 edition of the girls’ school newspaper, The Spirit, “obstacles were the elements upon which she thrived.”
As the school grew, so too did the athletic offerings and the athletic successes. While her myriad of professional accomplishments are laudable, “S” is best remembered for her engaging personality and her love of the students. She was always their biggest cheerleader. In the course of her illustrious 35 year career, she attended incalculable UC games, both home and away. You knew when “S” was in the stands, as she energetically sounded words of encouragement. She found you afterwards to pat you on the back for a win, or to lift your spirits following a loss. In a personal chat with “S” she shared that “If you got through to one kid it was worth it; you had made a difference. “ That one simple statement summarizes her teaching philosophy.