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MCAS honors 38 retirees


Michigan City Area Schools proudly recognizes 38 honored retirees!

The following employees were recently honored as retirees from the Michigan City Area Schools district, including teachers, administrators, food service and transportation professionals, secretaries, paraprofessionals, maintenance personnel, and more, who retired following the 2019/2020 and 2020/2021 school years.

Congratulations to these 38 individuals who are retiring with a combined 940 years of service to our students.  THANK YOU from your MCAS family.  We wish you many years of happiness and relaxation in your retirement!

Jan Arens (22 years) worked for Michigan City Area Schools as a paraprofessional at Krueger, spending her last few years with the Behavior Support Program. In retirement, Jan will continue renovating her house and working in her yard, and she will enjoy traveling with her family.

Connie Bachmann (49 years) worked at several schools over the course of her long career with MCAS, including Harrison, Jefferson, Garfield, Springfield, Knapp, Eastport, Mullen, Lake Hills and Michigan City High School. She was an elementary art teacher for grades K-6; a classroom teacher for grades 3, 4 and 6; an elementary principal; and a summer school principal. She also coached track and basketball at the elementary level. After her retirement last year, the street by Lake Hills was renamed “Connie Bachmann Drive”! She is now enjoying “seven-day weekends” filled with family, friends, mystery and historical novels, golf, and remodeling projects.

Linda Bechinski (14 years) is retiring as the Director of Nursing for Michigan City Area Schools. In her role, she was based at MCHS but covered many schools each year as a sub. She plans to enjoy her retirement years by visiting relatives in Pennsylvania, as well as her daughter and granddaughter in South Carolina.

Mary Beres (32 years) spent 31 years at Joy Elementary and one year at Mullen Elementary; she also previously taught at Queen of All Saints. She worked in the Title 1 program briefly and spent the rest of her time with MCAS teaching grades 2, 4, and 5. Since retiring last year, Mary has enjoyed kayaking, golfing, and bicycling. She now plans to divide her time between Michigan City and her new home in Florida, and “once everything is back to normal” she and her husband will travel the country in a small RV.

Clarence Black (16 years) worked for the MCAS Transportation Department from 2004 - 2020 as a bus monitor and bus driver.

Mary Bowser (16 years) taught kindergarten for Michigan City Area Schools from 2004 - 2020, working at Edgewood, Niemann, and Springfield. Mary now plans to travel across the country in a camper... full time!

Deby Carpenter (35 years) is retiring as the elementary counselor at Springfield, but over the course of her career with MCAS she also taught physical education at all levels. She worked at MCHS (where she also coached swimming), Springfield, Edgewood, Marsh, Long Beach, Knapp, Joy, Mullen, and Barker. In retirement, she plans to travel with her husband, volunteer at her church and in her community, and care for her mother.

Annie Childs (29 years) worked for the Michigan City Area Schools Transportation Department from 1999 to 2019 and in the Food Service department from 1990 to 2015. She plans to spend retirement enjoying her family and traveling to Vegas, Kansas City, and Texas.

Rita Cochran (39 years) spent her 39 years with MCAS working as an elementary art teacher at Coolspring, splitting her time for 32 of those years at Niemann, as well. (She also taught at Marsh, Park and Springfield!) In retirement, she will continue to operate Local Color Gallery in Union Pier, which she owns with her sister. You’ll also find her teaching summer art classes, creating her own artwork, gardening, and raising miniature horses and goats.

Mary Cotton (38 years) started as a bus monitor in 1982 and became a bus driver in 1984. She also trained other bus drivers during her time with Michigan City Area Schools. During her retirement years, Mary plans to focus on her ministry, spoil her grandchildren, and do lots of traveling — with and without her grandkids.

Tisa Cunningham (24 years) worked at Eastport, Mullen, and Pine, teaching Title 1, Reading Recovery, and second grade. She also served for one year as a paraprofessional. Tisa plans to spend lots of time with her grandkids during retirement, exploring all the possibilities of life and dancing on the “good hip” side.

Susan Cusick (28 years) spent her career as first, second, and third-grade teacher at Niemann, Springfield, and Marsh. When asked how she plans to spend her retirement, Susan said, “Rest!” and “Relax!” — adding that she also plans to spend time traveling and gardening.

Anna Firnhaber (19 years) worked at Barker, Krueger, and Elston (both the high school and the middle school). She taught high school physical education/swimming, middle school science, high school health, and middle school wellness. Anna also served as a volleyball and gymnastics coach. In retirement, she’ll relax and enjoy life, spending time with grandchildren, traveling, and catching up with friends and family.

Theresa Galloway (32 years) spent her career with MCAS at Krueger, Rogers, Elston and MCHS, working as an English teacher and school counselor/department chair. During retirement, she will be doing a little traveling, a lot of reading, and spending time with her family, “although I will certainly miss my MCHS family.”

Nancy Gonzalez (15 years) worked at Coolspring, Knapp, Niemann, Pine, and Springfield as a Student Support Services pre-k teacher. During her retirement, Nancy plans to travel and write a book.

Danielle Greene (28 years) spent her entire time with our district working as a bus driver for the Michigan City Area Schools transportation department.

Melanie Johnson (25 years) worked for the Michigan City Area Schools Transportation Department as a bus driver from 1995 to 2019.

Gloria Kirkpatrick (30 years) spent her years with Michigan City Area Schools working as an adult education instructor, both in La Porte and at the A. K. Smith Career Center. During retirement, she plans to spend her time making greeting cards.

Bill Landwer (10 years) worked for MCAS in the Administration Building as a data reporting and scheduling assistant. (Bill admits “scheduling” was not included in his official title, but he says he did enough scheduling to claim it!) In his retirement, Bill will turn off his alarm clock and spend his days maintaining his property and traveling.

Thomas Lasky (26 years) taught fourth, fifth, and sixth grades at Edgewood, Krueger, Springfield, and Lake Hills. In addition, he coached boys and girls basketball for many years, as well as middle school cross country. He also led a Rocket Club at Krueger. He’ll spend his retirement traveling, taking long bike rides, and playing golf... but he’s also considering returning to take a teaching position again.

Elaine Milner (15 years) was an English as a Second Language (ESL) instructional assistant during her time with MCAS, spending her years at Barker, Edgewood, Pine, Lake Hills, Coolspring, and Springfield. She plans to fill her retirement years with private tutoring, fiction writing, and proofreading.

Janis Mitchell (26 years) was an elementary teacher (grades 4, 5 and 6) at Eastport, Mullen, and Lake Hills. She also led a student radio show (WLAKE and WMS) as well as a computer coding club. During retirement she will explore the “R”s … Reading fiction, Relaxing with family, Remodeling her home, and Reveling in the journey.

Linda Pitmon (5 years) worked for Michigan City Area Schools as a deaf interpreter (paraprofessional) at Michigan City High School and Pine. In retirement, she will enjoy embroidering, sewing, traveling, flower gardening, and writing books (her first book, Heather, is due out this year).

Nancy Porter (45 years) spent her years with MCAS working at Joy, Niemann, Krueger, Elston, and Springfield as a teacher and curriculum coach. She will continue to serve on the Board of Directors for St. Andrews Village and is considering the possibility of running restaurants again.

Ted Rebac (27 years) worked for Michigan City Area Schools from 1993 to 2020, serving as a bus monitor and custodian. Ted’s plan for retirement: Just to enjoy it!

Tammera Rinker (38 years) was a science/biology teacher, as well as a building rep, at Barker, Rogers, the Alternative High School, and Michigan City High School. In addition, she was Head Coach for softball at Rogers High School. During retirement, she plans on spending time with family, traveling, crocheting afghans, gardening, and sleeping in.

Ron Sanders (23 years) worked for the MCAS transportation department as a school bus driver.  He is now enjoying time in Florida and Michigan City, and fills his days with tennis and pickleball.

Brian Sheblosky (37 years) worked for Michigan City Area Schools as a mechanic. He retired last year as the Mechanic Foreman for the Transportation Department.

Lori Sheblosky (21 years) worked for Michigan City Area Schools from 1998 to 2019 at the Administration Building as a secretary for Student Support Services.

Sherri Silcox (23 years) worked for Michigan City Area Schools from 1996 to 2020, serving as the Safe Harbor Program Coordinator, Baby Talk Program Coordinator, Even Start Administrative Assistant, and a School Library Secretary. She worked at the Mullen Building, Michigan City High School, A.K. Smith Career Center, Coolspring Elementary, and for district-wide programs. She was a dedicated mentor for the Michigan City Robotics team and supported many other Safe Harbor special programs. 

Becky Smith (26 years) spent her 26-year career with MCAS serving as a paraprofessional at Joy, while also working 22 of those years as a bus monitor. During that time, she also was a Girl Scout leader. Becky plans to spend her retirement years relaxing, spending time with family and grandchildren, and simply enjoying life.

Thomas Stewart (12 years) worked as a bus driver for the Michigan City Area Schools Transportation Department from 2008 to 2020. He also served as the Michigan City Classified Association president. Tom will spend retirement beekeeping and enjoying his garden.

Lisa Suter (20 years) spent her career with MCAS serving as an elementary principal at Springfield,  Coolspring, and Joy. When asked what she plans to do in her retirement years, Lisa said, “I wish I knew …” as she is still working as an elementary school principal near family in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

Mary B. Teague (15 years) took on many roles with MCAS, including instructional assistant and locker room supervisor. She worked at Niemann, Elston, Eastport, and Lake Hills, serving students with special needs. In retirement, Mary plans to continue to expand the work of God; relax and enjoy her kids, grandkids, and husband; travel when possible; work on good health; and reach out to others in need.

Joaquin “Yogi” Torres (19 years) worked as the Lead Technician for the MCAS Technology Department, managing work orders and assisting with projects across the district. In recent years, Yogi could be found working in the STARZ (Student Tech and Resource Zone) office at the high school, teaching students how to fix Chromebooks and manage inventory. Yogi will spend his retirement fulfilling all his wife’s wishes, traveling, and spending time with the grandkids. 

Sue Vigen (35 years) was an elementary art teacher, serving for 23 years serving as the Elementary Art Department Chair, in addition to mentoring several art teachers. She taught at many schools, including Knapp, Mullen, Pine, Springfield, Long Beach, Park, Edgewood, and Joy. Sue plans to spend her retirement continuing to do artwork, traveling, and taking on some home improvements.

Sandra Wajsgras (13 years) is retiring as the school nurse at Marsh Elementary. She also served MCAS as a nurse at Edgewood, Pine, Coolspring, and Knapp. 

Sue Wood (22 years) worked for Michigan City Area Schools as a computer tech and was the Data Manager at the Administration Building. She plans to spend her retirement years traveling and possibly volunteering at a local elementary school in the library.