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Rockwood School District
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Then and Now: Brooke Stromsdorfer and Matthew Swoboda, Wildwood Middle

Wildwood Middle teachers Brooke Stromsdorfer and Matthew Swoboda were in the first classes of students at the school.


There are more than 300 staff members around Rockwood School District who were Rockwood students during their K-12 years. "Then and Now" is a series that highlights some of their stories and what has made Rockwood special to them as both students and educators.

Brooke Stromsdorfer, eighth-grade language arts, and Matthew Swoboda, seventh-grade social studies; Wildwood Middle

Rockwood Schools Attended
Stromsdorfer: Pond Elementary, Wildwood Middle, Eureka High
Swoboda: Green Pines Elementary, Wildwood Middle, Lafayette High​

Grades Attended in Rockwood
Stromsdorfer: 2-12
Swoboda: K-12

There are more than a few perks that come with being some of the first students to ever attend a new school. Just ask Brooke Stromsdorfer and Matthew Swoboda.

Swoboda, who entered sixth grade in 2001 -- the year Wildwood Middle opened -- was on the committee that picked out the school mascot: Timberwolves. Stromsdorfer came to Wildwood two years later, and she and the rest of her eighth-grade class decided what was going to be depicted on the mural in the school commons.

Brooke Stromsdorfer was a Wildwood Middle student, and now she teaches language arts at the school.There were some more practical advantages as well.

"It was such a big deal that we had three-quarter-size lockers, where Rockwood Valley​ had half lockers," Swoboda said. "You’d give your friends at other middle schools trouble for that​."

​​Swoboda is in his first year teaching at Wildwood, while Stromsdorfer is in her fourth. She was a classroom assistant with the 8 Gold academic team for a year before landing a full-time job. Now, she gets to teach on the same team, with her former language arts teacher Krista Chapis.

"I came back to haunt her," Stromsdorfer said, with a laugh. "It’s been so much fun. We've had a grand time together. She's my favorite teacher in the whole wide world. I’m very lucky to get to work right next to her."

Stromsdorfer said that while she had her first thought of becoming an educator in the third-grade Pond Elementary classroom of Dave Cobb -- now executive director of elementary education for the district -- her love for reading started with Chapis at Wildwood. Swoboda, too, patterns himself after the Rockwood educators who influenced him growing up.

Educators like his parents, Tom and Theresa, who worked at Green Pines when he was there. Tom and Theresa first met at a new teacher orientation at Rockwood South Middle​, where Matthew would later teach for five years before taking the Wildwood job. Theresa is the librarian at Green Pines and has worked there for more than 30 years. Matthew's younger sister, Ellie, is in her second year teaching at Babler Elementary.Matthew Swoboda was a student at Wildwood Middle and now teaches social studies at the school.

"I always had somebody there to support me and push me to be a good student, learn and grow," Swoboda said. "I always felt like I had somebody I could count on and trust. I want to give back, and that’s why getting back to Wildwood was so neat. Now, I get to be a part of the community that helped raise me.”​

Swoboda coaches the junior varsity boys volleyball team at Lafayette, where he played for Doug Ell. He also coaches the offensive line for the Lancers football team with head coach Boyd Manne, who he played for in high school. He teaches in the same room at Wildwood where he took geography in seventh grade.

Literally the same room. It gives him a feeling that Stromsdorfer knows all too well.

"The school is exactly the same," Stromsdorfer said. "Every single room is a wave of nostalgia. Every bit of it. My middle school experience was fun. So every day, I try to make it a little fun for my students."