Five lower, middle school teachers retire with 122 combined years at Lab


Henry Benton

Spanish teacher Angelica Guerrero worked with middle and lower school students during her 20 years at Lab.

Peter Cox, Amy Ren, and Téa Tamburo

Five Laboratory Schools teachers outside of U-High will retire this year, a band director, a science teacher, a language teacher, a lower school teacher and a librarian each with unique Lab experiences. All of them said working with Lab students was one of the best parts of their job, and all are looking forward to pursuing hobbies and traveling once they retire.
Linda Weide, a fourth grade teacher, came to Lab in 1998. For her, building connections with her students and their families is a highlight of her time at Lab.
“Teaching is a relationship profession and I have enjoyed my relationships with all my students, colleagues and families.” Ms. Weide said. “I can walk around the neighborhood and the city and see people that I’ve taught and I feel a lifelong connection and I think it’s really powerful.”
Like Ms. Weide, Jamelle St. Clair, a lower school librarian, enjoyed interacting with students the most, throughout her time at Lab. Ms. St. Clair came to Lab in 2000.
“What has kept me at Lab was always the students. Always,” Ms. St. Clair said. “It was the love of students, their curiosity.”
Although Ms. St. Clair will miss Lab, she looks forward to spending more time with her grandchildren.
For Angelica Guerrero, lower and middle school Spanish teacher, spending time with smaller children was a highlight of her 20 years at Lab.
“The last few years I have been working with lower school kids,” Ms. Guerrero said, “and I feel that their energy, their love, their love for learning, the love that they feel for their teachers — it keeps me young.”
According to Ms. Guerrero, she enjoys the kids playfulness. After retirement, she plans to visit her family in Mexico more often. She has in-laws in Chicago that she also wants to spend more time with. She enjoys running and is looking forward to extra time to train for upcoming races.
Like Ms. Guerrero, Catherine Janovjak, lower and middle school band director, will miss spending time around kids, and she plans to come back to check in on her current students. Ms. Janovjak started at Lab in 1988 and taught second grade at Lab for over 20 years prior to her current position.
“I think fifth and sixth grade are amazing, because kids are excited about possibilities,” Ms. Janovjak said, “and then, seventh and eighth when they get skills.”
Ms. Janovjak also said she valued the schedule of being a teacher and always feels ready to return to school after summer break. In September she’s going on a cruise to keep herself busy. She is also very involved with her church, including her church’s programs supporting refugees.
Another retiring teacher, Mark Wagner, a middle school science teacher, also appreciated the schedule the Lab school year provided. Prior to coming to Lab in 2000, he taught in public schools for 30 years. At Lab, he especially enjoyed the greater time to plan, greater access to science equipment and an engaged student body that allowed him to pursue more creative lesson plans.
“It was like being released to be able to do more of what you really would like to do,” he said.
After his retirement, he plans to live full-time at his vacation house in the Indiana Dunes with his wife, Eileen, who retired from Lab in 2019. He plans to practice his electric bass, which he plays in a blues band. He also wants to spend time visiting his son, who lives in California.