Written by Andrew Melin, Superintendent
Last week was Teacher Appreciation Week, a time for our community to recognize the dedication and commitment of educators who are the backbone of school corporations. Teachers are on the front line every day addressing the academic and social needs of students, any community’s most important asset.
Teachers today continue to adapt to the changing climate of educational reform, accountability, funding and social issues. They overcome these challenges daily by devoting themselves to our students.
Teachers are many things to many students. Teachers not only assure students learn important academic skills and concepts that prepare them for post-secondary opportunities, but they also address socio-emotional issues that arise each day in our students. Teachers must be fully aware of each of their student's frame of mind on a daily basis, and adapt their instructional practice appropriately to address each student's needs.
There is a legal term that applies to educators, "in loco parentis," in the place of a parent. This is not just a legal term but a significant responsibility for educators. While students are at school or at school functions, educators are to treat students with the same level of expectation and compassion as any student's parent. This is an important role that teachers gladly accept on a daily basis.
The Valparaiso Community Schools has 340 teachers who are devoted to their students and who, without hesitation, accept the responsibility of educating our students. Fourteen of those teachers will be retiring at the end of this school year.
In total, the 14 retiring teachers have accumulated 618 years of teaching and dedicated service to students. They are:
Ben Franklin Middle School: Kay Frataccia, Spanish, 22 years; Steve Holt, German, 18 years.
Cooks Corners: Becky Clover, kindergarten – 33 years.
Flint Lake Elementary: Sue Hoffman, third grade, 36 years.
Northview Elementary: Dorothy Graden, kindergarten, 23 years.
Parkview Elementary: Susan Livarchik, second grade, 35 years.
Thomas Jefferson Elementary: Bonnie Weitzel, reading, 26 years.
Thomas Jefferson Middle School: Cheryl Benway, math, 16 years; Richard Bender, science, 37 years.
Valparaiso High School: Debra Fray, social studies, 32 years; Mark Knauff, math, 29 years; Neil Hurdle, English, 14 years; Lenore Hoffman, English, 39 years; and Mark Hoffman, athletics, 39 years.
These individuals have been invaluable assets to our community in shaping the lives of so many students. They will be missed by their students, parents and colleagues.
We greatly appreciate their years of dedication and service to the Valparaiso Community Schools.