Farewell staff: South honors retiring teachers

Atticus Ludwig

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As the school year comes to a close, The Oracle would like to honor seven staff members who are retiring this year. Retirees include Diane Breman, human resource specialist; Chemistry teacher Ronald Harris; Counselor Paul Herzog; Steve Kornick, business education instructional supervisor; Karen Roman, athletic department manager; Jan Vinopal, health and driver’s education teacher; and Lee Fiorio, applied science teacher.

Diane Breman

After working 17 years for the district, Diane Breman, human resource specialist, is retiring. Breman worked as a department secretary at both North and South before switching to Human Resources.

Breman was first hired for the dis- trict in 1995 as department secretary in the Foreign Language and Art De- partments at North. After two years, Breman transferred to South to be the Math Department secretary. She then applied for a job at the Adminis- tration Office.

“I had a human resource back- ground, so I decided to throw my hat in the ring and see if I got selected, and I did,” Breman said.

According to Breman, her job now is working with the support staff, which consists of department secretaries, custodians, instructional assistants, parapros and students.

Breman’s co-worker Debbie Timpe believes Breman is very dedicated and well-organized.

“[Breman] cares about what she does; she cares about the people she is working with,” Timpe said.

Breman’s work has given her insight into the dedi- cation of teachers.

“[Teachers are] like performers, […] they’re on for at least eight hours a day and then they go home and correct papers,” Breman said.

One of Breman’s favorite memories in the district is learning to dance the macarena in the Foreign Language Department.

According to Timpe, she will be greatly affected by Breman’s departure.

“[Breman] became more than just a co-worker; she’s a friend, and I’ll miss having her around and talking with her every day,” Timpe said.

According to Breman, she is unsure of her future plans other than spending the summer in Wisconsin.

“I made a lot of friends over the years from North and South, and [at the administration office] too, so I’ll miss them,” Breman said.

Ronald Harris

In the school year of 1977-1978, South employed a now well-known face in both the Science Department and the Athletic Department, Ronald Harris. Harris began teaching summer school at South before en- tering as a full time teacher. As his thirty-fifth year of teaching comes to a close, Harris is now retiring.

Harris is currently known for teaching Chemistry at South, but he started off teaching various other sci- ence courses at the school.

“I started teaching Biology and Physical Science, and I taught Horticulture,” Harris said. “A few years into my teaching career the department chairman, Mr. Goodspeed, asked me if I could teach chemistry. So I’ve been teaching Chemistry pretty much since then.”

Soon after, Harris began coaching track, football and wrestling.

“When I was done playing [sports] in college, especially football, I knew I wanted to stay involved in [sports] in some way, which kind of led to coaching,” Harris said.

According to Kurt Hassenstein, friend and fellow track coach, Harris is just as passionate on the field as he is in the classroom.

“His kind and caring ways towards the kids, always mak- ing the best out of bad situations, made [Harris a good coach],” Hassenstein said.

According to Harris, the most valuable lesson he has learned from his students at South is to not judge a book by its cover.

“I had a student come to school every day in a different costume,” Harris said. “One day the student was wearing his grandfather’s clothes. One day [he was] wearing a box. One day [he was] wearing a clown costume. If you just looked at the person, based upon how [he] walked into classroom, you can make a lot of judgments. But he was one of the nicest kids I ever taught.”

What Harris will miss the most after his retirement is the genuine enthusiasm of his students.

“Being around young people is usually fun,” Harris said. “There is a lot of energy there, there’s a lot of enthusiasm. We may be doing stoichiometry problems, but there is still some energy in the class.”

Most of all, Harris will miss the day-to-day contact with his students and colleagues.

“I’ll miss being around students and the unpredictability that can happen any given day,” Harris said.

Paul Herzog

After three decades in the Guidance Department, Paul Herzog has decided to retire from student counseling.

Prior to working at South, Herzog was a math teacher at Luther North High School on the northwest side of Chicago. He then obtained his master’s degree in counseling.

“It felt a bit more meaningful to help them solve life’s problems than to solve some algebraic equation,” Herzog said.

Throughout Herzog’s 30 years at South, he has worked with thou- sands of students. He has developed personal relationships with many of those students, ac- cording to senior Haleigh Haffner.

“Anytime I was stressing about my classes or college, I would go in and vent to him, and he’d talk with me about the problem,” Haffner said.

Depending on the time of year and the type of students he is working with, Herzog’s daily responsibilities vary.

“Sometimes it’s just changing a schedule, really mi- nor, and sometimes, it’s really all about helping stu- dents solve problems,” Herzog said. “Sometimes, it’s something really huge, a very serious emotional crisis. I spend a lot of time with parents, too.”

This type of assistance to students and parents gives Herzog the opportunity to establish steady relationships with them.

“[My favorite part of the job has been] the connec- tions I’ve made with students and their families,” Herzog said. “It makes my job feel really meaningful.”

From teaching to counsel- ing, Herzog feels grateful for the opportunities he has been given. Though he will be retiring from South af- ter this year, he does not think he will completely retire

from work. “I do think I’ll work again,” Herzog said. “I’ve done some marriage counseling in the past, so I might do more of that kind of counseling.”

Steve Kornick

After working in District 225 for 33 years, Steve Kornick, applied technology instructional supervisor, has decided to retire.

Kornick worked at North for 25 years before taking a position at South.

“I [thought] I needed to challenge myself a little more and I had the opportunity to interview for it, and I got it,” Kornick said.

Kornick’s main job as the department head is to evaluate teachers and structure schedules.

“As a classroom teacher, you don’t have the ability to motivate other teachers,” Kornick said. “But as the department chair, that’s part of your role, and I relish that.”

One of Kornick’s memorable moments from his teaching career was when a former student came back to tell him how his knowledge from automotives class has aided him in medical school.

“He was finishing up his residency, and he said that automotives is taught just like [medical] school: it’s system based, it’s problem solving, it’s diagnostic,” Kornick said.

Kornick feels that while he will miss his years at South, it is the best decision for him and the school.

“I think there is an opportunity to bring new blood, new ideas and new technology in,” Kornick said.

With the extra time he will have once he retires, Kornick plans to explore new places.

“I probably will travel given the opportunities,” Kornick said. “It was difficult as a teacher because your travel times were always peak travel times.”

According to Kornick, he made plans to retire four years ago, and these past four years have gone by quickly.

“Every day I’m faced with more current realities that this is happening,” Kornick said.

Though moving on to a new chapter in life, Kornick will always remember the atmosphere of the district.

“There’s a certain energy in a school building that you will not get anywhere else,” Kornick said.

Karen Roman

Karen Roman, athletic department manager, will be retiring June 29 after two months short of 24 years at South.

According to Kay Sopocy, physical education and health teacher, Roman takes care of sports equipment and rentals, makes sure kids go to P.E. and encourages them to be their best.

“[There are] a lot of other jobs that go along with it, and I think she does a great job of juggling everything,” Sopocy said.

Roman’s experience at South has changed her lifestyle.

“South has become my life,” Roman said. “I not only spend my eight-and-a-half hours [a day] working here, but there are days that I get here at seven in the morning and don’t get home until 10 [p.m.]”

Roman attempts to keep her home life separate from her school life by having a positive attitude at school.

“One of the things that I have tried to do is be a friend to a student who either doesn’t have a friend or who needs a friend,” Roman said. “So I let girls come in at lunch or after school and talk, and I try to be a listener and give them good advice if I can.”

Sopocy will miss Roman and the wonderful job she does at South.

“I know she will be missed, and I know that many of us will continue to keep in touch with her because she’s a friend to all of us,” Sopocy said.

After retiring, Roman’s plan for the summer is to work in her yard on her garden. Roman is appreciative to have spent her time at South.

“I will miss the kids and teachers at South,” Roman said. “I enjoyed working here very much and am grateful for everything positive that came out of it.”

Jan Vinopal

Jan Vinopal, health and driver’s education teacher, is retiring after years of teaching at South.

In 1978, Vinopal started teaching at South after student teaching at Maine South.

“I only taught two classes, and I would sub, or be a paraprofessional in the halls the rest of the day,” Vinopal said. “I got to know everybody that year, and I fell in love with this school.”

She left South after one year for a full time position at Highland Park High School. In 1985, she began teaching at Glenbrook Night School and  came back in 1999 with a full time position teaching Health and Driver’s Education.

During her time at South, Vinopal has been a part of the Student Assistance Program. According to Vinopal, this program is made up of a team of faculty who help identify at-risk students and provide them with support.

“Each case is different, but each case has the common goal of getting the student help so that they are successful in school no matter what their issue is,” Vinopal said.

Vinopal was also involved in Student to Student from the late 1990s to 2005. Vinopal also has had the opportunity to work with the TLS kids at South. Her favorite part of the year was seeing the TLS basketball game.

“I had the most awesome opportunity to teach these kids with a variety of disabilities about health education,” Vinopal said. “I think I got more out of it from them than they got from me.”

Although Vinopal is sad to leave, she has many plans for the future and is particularly excited to travel. She plans to come back to South as a substitute teacher and continue teaching night school.

According to Vinopal, her Glenbrook ties will always remain with her even after she retires.

“I love it here, and I don’t plan on leaving,” Vinopal said. “You’re going to see my face around here next year.”

Lee Fiorio

Lee Fiorio, Computer Aided Drafting (CAD) teacher from the Applied Technology Department, is retiring after 32 years at South.

According to Fiorio, he loves seeing the impact he has had on students.

“When students that have been through my program come back and tell me that they’re an architect or an engineer and how much the classes that they took [with me] have helped them achieve that goal, those are good memories,” Fiorio said.

Senior Luke Brown’s college decisions have been impacted by Fiorio.

“Personally, [Fioro] is the reason I am studying in college to be an architect,” Brown said. “He has helped me build an impressive portfolio to use for internships and college admissions.”

Although Fiorio believes retiring will be bittersweet, he feels that the time is right for him to leave South.

“It’s going to be great because I’m going to have all this free time, but at the same time […] I’m in this whole new phase of my life, and I have to get used to that,” Fiorio said.

Fiorio plans to spend much of his free time teaching classes at Oakton Community College.

According to Fiorio, he will miss the people he works with.

“I work with some really smart people,” Fiorio said. “We don’t just talk about teaching or what we do, [but] we can talk about politics, we can talk about art, we can talk about books and music and travel […] I‘ll miss having this close knit group of people that I won’t be seeing every day.”

 

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