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Michigan City Area Schools Honored Retirees of 2023

Michigan City Area Schools Honored Retirees of 2023

Front Row: Cheryl Allen, Ruth Radke, Nadia Dabagia, Melinda Thalmann, Cindy Gesse
Back Row: Linda Meyer, Lorraine Hoffman, Joyce Westphal, Andrew Jasicki, Wanda DeMunck, Dena Slisher
Not pictured: Paula Day, Andrew Dudeck, Robin Endris, Dona Maerz, Pamela Patterson-Uryga, and Trinka Rubeck

Cheryl Allen (29 years) worked for MCAS as a paraprofessional at Coolspring Elementary. She also served as a para during summer school at Lake Hills, Pine, and the high school. She began teaching piano lessons at Coolspring over 20 years ago, and now plans to continue teaching piano in her home. She also looks forward to “doing whatever I want, whenever I want, and with whomever I want to go to concerts with!”

Nadia Dabagia (25 years) is a kindergarten expert! In addition to teaching kindergarten at Joy Elementary, she also taught half-day kindergarten at Edgewood, Niemann, and Coolspring. She also served as a summer school teacher, a Safe Harbor Homework Coordinator, and a Kindergarten Countdown teacher. And, of course, she taught in Joy’s summer “Kinder Camp” program. In retirement, she says she will “give myself time to adjust to a new lifestyle.”

Paula Day (39 years) has been a teacher for MCAS since 1984, working at Jefferson, Coolspring, Krueger, Elston, and Edgewood. She also served as a student council advisor. In retirement, she plans to spend as much time as possible with her grandson, and she will get back to several hobbies that she has neglected, including sewing, knitting, and reading.

Wanda DeMunck (32 years) is retiring as the Registrar at Michigan City High School. She previously served as Guidance Secretary and Assistant Registrar, and over the course of her career also worked at Elston Jr. High and Rogers High School. At Rogers, she was the Bowling Club advisor. Her list for retirement includes reading, decluttering, doing yard work, traveling, spending time with grandkids... and enjoying life!

Andrew Dudeck (26 years) was an elementary teacher at Joy, Springfield, Knapp, and Park Elementary Schools. At Park, he also taught Special Ed and served as the Student Council sponsor.

Robin Endris (25 years) retired last June after serving as an instructional assistant and Title 1
assistant at many schools. She began her career at Mullen, then served four private schools a day through Title 1 (Queens, St. Mary’s, St. Stan’s, and St. Paul). She also worked at Marsh briefly, before finally landing at Springfield. She was elected Vice President of the Michigan City Educational Support Professionals in 2003, and in 2008 became MCESP President for another 14 years. Since retiring, she’s been sorting, packing, and moving 40 years of her life to southern Indiana, where she will be living. She loved the staff and principals everywhere she worked, but misses the kids most of all.

Cindy Gesse (33½ years) taught first, second, fourth, and fifth grade for MCAS, working first at Park and then at Edgewood Elementary. Now that she has retired, she plans to travel to visit her children, volunteer, and pursue the “3 R’s” -- Relax, Rest, and Read!

Lorraine D. Hoffman (20 years) began working with MCAS as a substitute teacher and then became an instructional assistant. She worked at Mullen Elementary, moving on to Lake Hills STEM Magnet School when the new building opened. She now plans to relax and enjoy her time off, visiting family overseas and spending time with her grandchildren.

Andrew Jasicki (24 years) is retiring as a Biology teacher at Michigan City High School, where he also has served as sponsor for the Envirothon team since 2015. In addition to MCHS, he taught at Elston and at the Alternative School. His plan for retirement: “ENJOY EVERYTHING!”

Dona Maerz (34 years) served MCAS as a paraprofessional at Springfield for 29 years; she also worked at Knapp and Marsh. In retirement, she plans on learning how to quilt and will explore cooking.

Linda Meyer (39 years) is retiring after 25 years as a counselor, 12 years as a teacher, one year as an attendance secretary, and one year as a reading assistant. She was based at Michigan City High School and Rogers, and briefly traveled to Krueger and Niemann. Linda taught PE, Health, Lifeguard Training, Water Aerobics, and a Red Cross Learn to Swim class, and she served as the JV Volleyball and Basketball Coach. She was Head Tennis Coach for 11 years. Other than cleaning out her garage, her retirement plans include adding to her 11 perennial gardens and enjoying the flora and fauna from morning ’til night. She also has lined up a part-time position at Grand Beach Golf Course, where she’ll be working in the clubhouse and playing golf for free.

Pamela Patterson-Uryga (22 years) retired last June from her position as an instructional assistant at Coolspring. In retirement, she is enjoying Tai Chi, fishing, hiking, and concerts. She especially loves spending time in Cambridge, Massachusetts, which is a second home for her with her husband and son. She believes in always living life to the fullest, laughing often, and loving life with family and friends.

Ruth Radke (28 years) was an elementary music teacher, chorus director, and an eighth-grade remedial reading teacher. She is retiring from Joy but served many other schools in our district, too: Krueger Jr. High, Barker Middle School, Beverly Shores, Edgewood, Long Beach, Niemann, Springfield, Coolspring, Central, Jefferson, Mullen, Marsh, Pine, and Knapp. She recalls that in 1979, when only fifth- and sixth-graders received music, she traveled to nine buildings each week! At Joy, she coordinated Circle the State with Song and Drama Club. In retirement, she will be a full-time Oma to her grandchildren and will continue as the organist at Trinity Lutheran Church in LaPorte. She encourages everyone to come and see live theatre this summer (she is on the Board of Directors for the Canterbury Guild). During September, you will find her making apple cider donuts and apple fritters at Radke Apple Orchard!

Trinka Rubeck (31 years) was a teacher at Coolspring, Long Beach, and Niemann Elementary Schools. She is hoping to return to serve MCAS (part-time!) as a tutor for math.

Dena Slisher (27 years) has been a Math teacher for MCAS since 2003, at Michigan City High School, Krueger Middle School, and Michigan City Jr. High. She also coached sixth-grade and eighth-grade girls basketball. She says she’s not sure about her plans for retirement, but she is ready to enjoy it to the fullest.

Melinda Thalmann (29 years) has worked in many roles as a teacher in the Special Ed department, at Krueger Middle School, Pine Elementary, Michigan City High School, and at Elston in the Alternative Education program. She has served students as a teacher in self-contained classrooms, as a Resource teacher, and as a co-teacher. At Krueger, she also served as the cheerleading coach and Pep Club sponsor. Her top priority in retirement is to spend time with her four grandchildren; she also plans to start a new career as a consultant for behavioral services.

Joyce Westphal (38 years) is retiring as the Principal’s Secretary at Michigan City High School. She also served as the Attendance Secretary and Discipline Secretary, and worked at both MCHS and Rogers. At Rogers, she was the cheerleading coach for five years. She is now planning to relax, travel, spend time with family and friends, and read all of the books she keeps buying. “My alarm will never be set at 5:00 a.m. again, unless I’m boarding a plane to somewhere fabulous!” she says.