Everyday operations at Valparaiso High School would not be possible without the dedicated staff. Thought, organization, and communication go into any project or activity. Guidance Department Director Gloria Zimmerman is a key player in managing the lives of VHS students. Zimmerman serves as both an academic and emotional support system for the students she interacts with.
Zimmerman’s long list of credentials is impressive. The Hammond native attended Indiana University in Bloomington and obtained a major in Journalism and English and a minor in Secondary Education. She continued her education at Indiana University Northwest and pursued a Master’s in Education and a Master's in Guidance and Counseling from Purdue Calumet in Hammond.
Zimmerman was initially unsure about education, but her passion for journalism led her in the right path. She loved working on the yearbook in high school, so her goal was to become yearbook & newspaper advisor or work in public relations. Fate led her in the right direction and she was offered a job at Valparaiso High School. Zimmerman was able to put her skills to the test and taught English, Mass Communications, Film Literacy, Yearbook and Newspaper classes. She decided to return to school for Master's in Guidance and now serves as a Guidance Director at VHS. Zimmerman continues to teach Speech class in summer school, and she thoroughly enjoys keeping in touch with what’s going on within the classroom.
“My favorite part about the VHS students I work with is their enthusiasm,” says Zimmerman. “Watching them throughout their 4 years at VHS is always interesting. They pursue their goals, then set the groundwork for life after VHS, whether it’s college, the military, or employment.”
The Guidance Department plays a vital role in every aspect of the high school. The Department is essentially in charge of class scheduling, college planning, and scholarships. Whether Zimmerman is assisting students with credit transfer or helping them register for standardized testing, she manages to balance it all flawlessly.
She said, “The most rewarding part of my job is helping students attain their diploma goal and overcome specific problems in their lives. Seeing them be successful despite these hardships is truly amazing.”
Although Zimmerman has her hands full, she always makes those she loves a priority. Zimmerman is married and has two sons who both graduated from VHS. She also has two grandkids. Pursuing her passions is a close second. Zimmerman loves to travel and has visited places such as Prague, Munich, Vienna, and Budapest. She also manages to make time for an annual trip to Mexico. In her free time, she enjoys gardening, reading and cooking.
“Work hard and follow your dreams!” she says. “It has been my privilege watching former students pursue and achieve their dreams— whether it is managing newspapers, working with major directors in Hollywood, or even teaching at elementary, middle schools, high schools and colleges throughout the U.S. The possibilities are endless”
In conclusion, it is evident that Zimmerman has made a positive impact on the lives of thousands of students over the years. Her knowledge and passion for her job is what molds her success. Zimmerman’s dedication to both education and bettering the lives of others is why she is this week’s Valpo Life in the Spotlight.