Staff members prepare for retirement, reflect on memories

Jiwoo Hwang and Tess Ledden

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Hector Carabez

Right after graduating from Northeastern Illinois University, Hector Carabez found a job at South working in the Dean’s office. From there, he moved to the Special Education Department, and continued working at South for over forty years.

During his years at South, he coached multiple sports teams, including girls’ basketball, girls’ golf, cheerleading, girls’ and boys’ soccer, and boys’ gymnastics. Recently, he was chosen to be the public address announcer for the girls’ and boys’ IHSA (Illinois High School Association) state soccer championship.

Aside from sports, Carabez also sponsored the Cause 4 Paws club and helped with the Variety Show for 36 years.

As Carabez worked with more students throughout his career, he feels that he has changed as a person and a teacher.

“I’ve seen myself change in how I talk to students,” Carabez said. “[I think] more about them and making them happy.”

His favorite part of teaching and coaching is the interaction with the students.

“My favorite part is when I see a smile on their face when they accomplish something,” Carabez said.

As he approaches retirement, he admires South and his years working here.

“South is probably one of the greatest high schools in the country,” Carabez said. “This school really works hard to make the students’ four years the best four years of their lives. I think it’s phenomenal. That’s the part that I’m going to miss a lot- just being [a] part of it.”

 

Diane Egebrecht

Diane Coon Egebrecht retired from her 22-year career at South this year. After her graduation in 1974, Egebrecht returned to South as a paraprofessional, where she impacted many students.

“I absolutely loved working with high school students,” Egebrecht said. “They really taught me more than I taught them.”

As a paraprofessional, a few of Egebrecht’s duties included checking IDs for open lunch and monitoring the hallways.

“Teachers are the unsung heroes,” Egebrecht said. “My job was to make sure the halls were quiet so they could teach.”

Egebrecht considered a career at South when her two children began going to school because she wanted to work during the day.

“I thought how fun that would be, to go back to the place that had defined me so much in my youth,” Egebrecht said. “I applied for the job, and I got it!”

For now, Egebrecht said she and her husband plan to stay in the area at first, then travel. She is especially looking forward to visiting her children in Colorado.

Reflecting on her time at South, Egebrecht says her favorite years were the 10 she spent leading the pep club.

Egebrecht said that she has no regrets; she learned from the students and loved her relationships with them.

“My father once told me if you find a job you love you never have to work a day in your life,” Egebrecht said. “I did. It was the best job, the best students, and I was very blessed and grateful.”

 

Scott Matthews

Teaching is just the latest adventure in English Teacher Scott Matthews’ life. Before beginning his 17-year career at GBS as an ELL instructor, Matthews worked in various environments such as cattle ranching and food trading around the world.

Matthews says that after he and his wife adopted their daughter Carly, his wife suggested he look into teaching instead of trading stocks so he would be home more.

Later, Matthews began his fifth career as a teacher at South, and says three people impacted him at South.

“Karen LeBlanc got me hired, and then really helped me get through all the learning curves of becoming a teacher,” Matthews said. “Socorro Rogers took off all my rough edges and Ryan Sutherlin made me learn to love math.”

Matthews states that he doesn’t know what’s next for him, and he’ll miss South.

“I’ll miss the students and all my colleagues because it’s been an amazing experience,” Matthews said.

Matthews says his most rewarding experience has been forming meaningful relationships with students and families.

“Three things have made me a better person,” Matthews said. “One is photography, learning to see; the other was farming, and that relationship with nature; and the other has been teaching, working with all the staff and the students. I definitely feel like I’ve grown as a person again.”

 

Mike Riggle

Twenty-one years ago, Superintendent Dr. Mike Riggle became the principal of Glenbrook North High School. This year, he says ‘goodbye’ to the district as superintendent, and begins his move to Bloomington, Indiana to be closer to his family. He will be passing the torch to Dr. Charles Johns at the end of this school year.

Riggle reflects that over the course of his position, the accomplishments the Glenbrooks have achieved are the most gratifying experiences he has had.

“I really enjoy celebrating [students’ and teachers’] success,” Riggle said.

One moment of pride for Riggle was the 2009 Canned Food Drive, in which North and South combined resources. Held at Wagner Farm, the culmination of the food drive was a hand sculpture overflowing with cans. It set the Guinness World Record for the largest can stack at 59,084, according to a 2009 article in TribLocal Glenview.

“There are so many successes it’s hard to pick just one,” Riggle said. “There is opportunity for success any time the Glenbrooks come together.”

Riggle knew he would be unable to finish the implementation of certain ideas for the school before his imminent retirement, so he decided to leave the pursuit to Johns. Riggle believes the school will benefit with Johns as the new superintendent.

“It’s going to be difficult to step away,” Riggle said. “But it’s time, and I know it will be good for the Glenbrooks to get someone with fresh eyes who will continue to look to improve the two schools.”

 

Steven Weissenstein

Ever since Steve Weissenstein was in high school, he knew he wanted to be a teacher. However, everyone around him told him to pursue a different career path. Reluctantly, he went into accounting, soon realizing that he made the wrong decision.

“It didn’t take me very long to realize that there was no way I was going to do that for the rest of my life,” Weissenstein said. “After a couple years I said, ‘I’m going to be a teacher.’”

After Weissenstein got his teaching certificate, he started working at South in 1986. During his 33 years at South, he taught Accounting, Business Law, Consumer Education, and Marketing. Aside from teaching, he was the girls’ head basketball coach, he says, for 30 years.

The best part of his teaching career was working with his students.

“Every day I love being with the students, they bring energy to the classroom and enjoy learning,” Weissenstein said.

Soon to be retired, Weissenstein is enjoying his last moments teaching at South.

“I still love what I’m doing,” Weissenstein said. “People ask me how many days are left, and I’m not counting because I still like what I’m doing,”

Looking back at all his years of teaching, Weissenstein feels very fortunate to have worked at South.

“Glenbrook South is a great place to teach,” Weissenstein said. “The kids are great. The administration is great. My colleagues are fantastic. I loved working here.”

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