Krissy Norgaard is one of my very best friends. Krissy was my ride or die bff in high school. (And, I do NOT throw around a very eloquent and intellectual term like “ride or die” loosely, folks!) The majority of my great high school memories have Krissy and I in the starring roles!
Krissy is caring, kind, fun, smart, determined, driven, and musically gifted.
Krissy grew up in La Crescent, MN and went to college at UW-Superior to study elementary education. After school, she moved back to the La Crosse area and got a job at Chileda where she found her passion for working with children and young adults with disabilities. (Chileda supports children and young adults with cognitive and behavioral challenges who come from local communities, as well as from across the country.) She’s been a special education teacher at Chileda for almost 5 years.
Krissy recently completed her licensure in special education with an emphasis in cognitive disabilities. She currently lives in La Crosse, WI in her beautiful home with her sweet dogs – Chloe and Georgie. She’s also involved in the Pet Therapy Program though the Humane Society with her dog Chloe.
I loved high school. Unlike many people, I thought it an awesome time in my life. Granted, at the time, I thought it was as good as it would get. Whoa, was I wrong! But, the kind of silly fun I had in high school has never been matched at any other point in my life thus far. When I reflect me and Krissy’s antics, all I can think of is good, clean fun, lots of singing, and the deepest of belly laughs.
During high school, I was really involved in my church. I’ve since realized that I am not a religious person. It was the incredible community and opportunity to engage with music that was the real draw for me. And, in terms of church related opportunities for music and fun, Krissy and I did it ALLL – church choir (with a group of mostly older folks), praise and worship band (with all of our hilarious church and school bffs) lefse bakes, teaching Vacation Bible School, youth group, committees, projects, and we even lead a little kids choir for a bit.
We were also involved in basically every singing opportunity in which high school choir (and theatre) would allow us to participate. This included musicals, madrigal group, singing the national anthem at sporting events, caroling, and basically the largest number of Solo & Ensemble performances we were allowed to participate in each year. Not to mention, what I like to call one of our claims to fame – La Crescent Idol! We didn’t sing in this competition but organized it all including the initial try-outs complete with teachers serving as judges and a student who videotaped it so we could show the blooper reel at the event before the 10 finalists performed.
And, we didn’t limit our singing to just school and church. . . We wrote and sang songs for everything – contests we didn’t win, Mother’s Day (twice–both tunes fittingly entitled “The Mom Song” and “The Mom Song 2”), Diversity Week, class projects, and a bucket list level performance on a mission trip. We even recorded a Christmas Carol CD for our families (with the help of two boys from our church band). Krissy was more musical than me – she can play piano and guitar as well as sing beautifully. And, still does in her church to this day.
I am truly fortunate to have had Krissy in my life growing up in La Crescent. There are so many opportunities and excitements that I wouldn’t have known about or had the courage to pursue on my own, had it not been for our connection. I admire Krissy’s dedication to her family, faith and community. And, her dedication to working with and advocating for her students is immensely valuable! We need more people like Krissy in our world.
Whenever I see Krissy when I’m home it’s like nothing has changed. Our updates are more grown up. . . like homeownership (her) or job changes and moves (me), but our connection always runs deep. Also, most holidays, me, my sister and Krissy still get together to play monopoly! Lilly and Krissy always gang up on me. . .ahem. . .always win! ;)
Read about what inspires Krissy and her words of wisdom below. . .
What inspires you & what do you care deeply about?
“I am most passionate about working with and advocating for people with disabilities. The past five years I have been working with children and young adults whose behavioral needs exceed the scope of services within the public school system and/or typical home environments. My students have taught me to see the fun and beauty in everyday situations. They show me how to live without too much worry and stress. It is beautiful to truly see people live in the moment. Even though many of my students struggle with basic care needs, independence, or uncontrollable behaviors, they are very inspiring. Unfortunately many people with disabilities are unable to advocate for themselves so they don’t get the services, resources, and dignity that they deserve. I am passionate about preparing my students for their future and giving them the tools they need to find success in adulthood. I strive to spread awareness about people with disabilities and to inform people about how to show respect to those with disabilities.”
“I have also recently found a passion in pet therapy. I have seen first-hand the joy and healing that a dog or other therapy animal can bring to those in pain, crisis, or the stress of everyday life. Animals give indiscriminate and unconditional love. They bring peace and companionship. I work to share the value of pet therapy in my community and share the love of my dog with those who need it.”
Who are women in your life that inspire you?
“The woman who has inspired me most in my life is my mom. She was always an example of the teacher I wanted to be – someone who is passionate about her job, her students, and their success. She always went above and beyond to make school fun and interesting for her students. She also instilled in me the joy of serving. My mom is always willing to help those in need, whether it be bringing mittens for a student at school or serving at church. Even in her retirement, she is continually busy volunteering her time in a variety of ways. I believe, because of her example, I have a passion for helping and serving people in need.” [I love Barb, too! She is a really special lady!]
If you had one piece of advice to give your former self, what would it be?
“One piece of advice I’d give my former self is let go of expectations. Life never turns out how you expect it to be, but it is still fantastic! Do what you love and care about, not what others expect you to do. Comparison is the thief of joy, so love the life you live and find happiness in what you do.”
This March, I am celebrating all the amazing women around me! Sharing women who have influenced me and make up my personal history. As the month goes on, you can see all my Inspiring Women posts here!