Aviva Valparaiso Resident Cynthia (Cindy) Stalbaum has spent many years making an impact on the Valparaiso community, though some of her most memorable moments happened inside the halls of Valparaiso High School (VHS), where she worked as a vocational teacher helping students prepare for life after graduation.
Stalbaum taught at VHS for around 15 years. In her classes, she created an office simulation, showing the kids the ins and outs of office jobs they were likely to encounter when they entered the workforce. She made sure to touch on every aspect that came with working in the corporate world, from creating resumes to interviews to the various positions (such as office manager, payroll clerk, etc.) they might hold once hired.
“I like doing the office labs,” Stalbaum said. “I got to interact with the girls, and I got to talk about things that I was interested in.”
Each class Stalbaum taught focused on real-life examples instead of by-the-book teachings. To add to her lessons, Stalbaum worked with companies and businesses in Valpo to make sure the information she was relaying back to her students was as accurate as possible.
“I had a workstation for Porter Memorial Hospital, for example,” she said. “So I went to the hospital, and I interviewed the person who did that job, got their information, got copies of documents that they use and all that kind of stuff, and then brought it back and made notes of it to incorporate it into the workstations.”
She noted doing this also allowed her to immerse herself and learn a lot about the area in which she lived. She made both many friends and professional connections along the way.
While Stalbaum loved her time as a teacher, choosing the vocation wasn’t an immediate decision. It wasn’t until she was about to enter the workforce herself that a teacher of her own inspired her to look into the field.
“I had one as a senior that I really admired, and I thought he was the greatest person in the world. He encouraged me to try to get the finances that I needed to go to school, and I picked the area because I really liked business,” she said.
Another subject Stalbaum has grown fond of over the years is sewing. It’s always been one of her favorite hobbies, and she particularly enjoyed making her own clothes and suits to wear to work.
“I did that for a long time because I wanted to make clothes for the places I needed to go,” she said. “My mother used to sew, so she was the one who got me interested in it, and from there I just picked it up on my own. I just wanted to present that business image through my clothing.”
As Stalbaum learned to master the craft, she expanded her inventory beyond the fashion realm. She began to create smaller wallets and snap bags both for herself and for others, and it always put a smile on her face to see her friends and family enjoy her unique, fun creations.
“I’ll admit, I got a lot of compliments,” she laughed. “I probably started making the little wallets about five years ago. I like to make them because they're easy to make and they're easy to give as gifts - it was that perfect little something to hand out.”
Stalbaum, when not making gifts for them, enjoys spending time with her family. In the past, she and her husband, Newell Stalbaum, have loved exploring the restaurant scene both in Valpo and Northwest Indiana, with some of her favorites being Tony’s Place and the Viking Chili Bowl. The two have also enjoyed doing various activities outdoors, including taking camping trips to nearby parks in their camper truck. Stalbaum would also accompany her husband on occasional fishing trips to Tennessee from time to time as well. They have one son, Craig Staulbaum, who currently resides in Boston and is a published author.
Now at Aviva, Stalbaum still keeps in contact with her family regularly. Her husband can visit on an almost-daily basis, and always makes sure to bring their dog Holly, a Llewellin Setter, whom Stalbaum adores.
For more information about Aviva Valparaiso, visit its website at avivavalparaiso.com.