Four new educators were inducted into the Michigan City Area Schools “Wall of Fame” on Thursday, bringing the total number of inductees to 196. First presented in 1976, the Wall of Fame recognizes school employees who have made outstanding contributions to the children of Michigan City Area Schools. This year’s inductees were Thomas Dombkowski, Herb Higgin, Sylvester Mabone, and Roxanna Young.
Dombkowski worked for MCAS for 33 years, serving as a Teacher, Principal, and Title 1 Program Administrator, working at Jefferson, Knapp, Riley, Marsh, and Niemann schools, as well as the MCAS Administration Building. Currently serving on the MCAS Board of Trustees, Dombkowski received several nominations to be selected as an inductee. During his acceptance, he pointed out the irony of being one of the original committee members to help establish the Wall of Fame in 1976.
One of several people to nominate Dombkowski was Trish Lykins, who said her children were the third generation in her family to walk through the doors of Niemann (although it was still Lakeland when her mother attended). “We felt like family there … we were educational partners,” she said. “Mr. Dombkowski encouraged us as parents to partner with teachers to ensure the success of our children. He always called himself the ‘Head Learner.’ He never knew how many children and adults he inspired with that philosophy.”
Also inducted to the Wall of Fame this year, Higgin served MCAS for 15 years as Coordinator of the Safe Harbor After-School Program. His plaque was presented by Sherri Silcox, who worked with him in the Safe Harbor program for many years. Upon Higgin’s retirement, Silcox took over the Coordinator role – describing that moment by saying “I had to fill those big shoes … and I had to wear a lot of socks to make that happen.”
Silcox said Higgin touched more than 10,000 lives during his time at MCAS, adding that he expanded Safe Harbor to include more sites, summer camp, STEM, and Robotics. He was known for two “Herbisms”: “It’s all about relationships” and “Just show up.”
Higgin was unable to attend the event, but Silcox read an acceptance letter he wrote, saying in part, “It’s the people, not the place. It afforded me the opportunity to work with and hire the most fantastic people anyone could ever hope for. Thank you a million times over.”
Also inducted this year, Mabone was an Assistant Principal with MCAS for 17 years, working at Michigan City High School, Elston High School, Elston Jr. High School, Barker Jr. High School, and Krueger Jr. High School. His plaque was presented by Sarah Hendricks, Co-Principal at Michigan City High School. Hendricks, who is a former student of Mabone’s, as well as a former colleague, read several words individuals had used to describe Mabone, from nominations that had been submitted: “class act, compassionate, dedication, sharp dresser, work ethic, selfless, charismatic, loyal, dependable, and an exquisite human being.”
In accepting his nomination to the Wall of Fame, Mabone said it was the love of MCHS, the students, parents, teachers and staff that he will always remember.
Also inducted to the Wall of Fame, Young was a Science Teacher for 33 ½ years with MCAS, working at Krueger Jr. High School, Barker Jr. High School, Elston High School, Michigan City Jr. High School, and Michigan City High School.
Nominating her was Katie St. Germaine, a former Chemistry and Anatomy/Physiology student. St. Germaine related several fond memories of high school Science class, including projects such as dissection and decorated turtle shell races, she nominated Young for this award because she learned so much during those years.
“When I went to college, I felt like I was ahead of the game in my Science classes, and that was all because of the education I received at Elston,” she said.
Young was unable to attend the event, so her plaque was accepted by Mark Marz, current Chair of the MCHS Science Department, who said he learned a lot from Young over the years. “She was warm and open to everyone. Her students loved her teaching style and she truly cared for her students,” he said.
MCAS also celebrated the retirement of ten educators and staff members, including Julie Bietry (27 years), Sandra Suzanne Kedo (41 years), Connie LaRocco (38 years), Cynthia Licciardone (8 years), Richard Liwosz (27 years), Stan Mason (15 years), Donna Pangborn (16 years), Leslie Samelson (29 years), Joan Stewart (40 years), and Marsha Tappan (26 years).
More information about the MCAS Wall of Fame, including a list of past inductees, can be found at www.EducateMC.net/WOF.