Joliet Catholic Academy history teacher Jason Midlock began last Thursday morning’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony from legendary basketball coach and leadership author John Wooden, “a leader’s most powerful ally is his or her own example.” Inducted at the ceremony were three current staff members, with a combined total of 45 years of service to the JCA community, who all have one thing in common: they have consistently shown leadership through the daily example they set for students. The JCA community is proud to honor current faculty and staff members Mr. Mark Clarke, Mr. Jose “Pepe” Herrera, and Mrs. Suzi Arnett.
Midlock, who is also the head of JCA’s cross-country program, inducted his fellow history department teacher, and current cross-country assistant coach Mr. Mark Clarke. Mr. Clarke has been employed at JCA since 2005 in the Social Studies department. He retired after thirty-plus years of service at Troy District 30-C as a middle school teacher and coach. Coach Clarke, as he is affectionately known to many student-athletes at JCA, owns multiple masters degrees in teaching, and has spent his career as an athletic official, coach, and club moderator. Over twelve years at JCA he’s coached girls basketball, cross-country, and currently serves as the moderator for JCA’s chapter of Habitat for Humanity, History Club, and Psychology Club. Clarke thanked his late wife Lucy, who he credited as the “true teacher in their family”, and his daughters Elizabeth, Mary, and Ann.
Mr. Jose “Pepe” Herrera began working at JCA in the summer of 2000 as a member of the maintenance and custodial staff. Known to all in the JCA community as “Pepe”, Mr. Herrera has become a fixture at JCA extra-curricular events over the past seventeen years, and has been crucial to success of school events such as monthly masses, Open House, the Alumni Banquet, Remembering “G” Fundraisers, and more. Mr. Herrera, who was presented his award by JCA assistant admissions director and head basketball coach Joe Gura, remarked, “I have one question: WHY ME?” He also said, “thank you to you all…you are my brothers, my sisters…and thank you to my grandpa Joe Gura”, which elicited laughter from the entire crowd. He was also joined at the yearly surprise ceremony (honorees are not informed prior to the event) by his wife Sylvia, sons Alex and Jose, and daughter Samantha.
Mrs. Suzi Arnett also began her career at JCA in the summer of 2000. She started her teaching career alongside her presenter Mrs. Amy Douglas, the director of JCA’s Academic Resource Center, as a student-teacher at Taft Elementary School. Mrs. Arnett, who teaches English and moderates the Victory View student newspaper has taken on a wide variety of extra-curricular roles while employed at JCA. Over 17 years she has served as a resource teacher, Yearbook moderator, Student Council moderator, HillZone (JCA’s student cheering section) moderator, as well as moderating many of JCA’s dances and social gatherings. Mrs. Douglas noted the bond the two have formed over the years as colleagues and in teaching one another’s children, a fitting testimony to the family atmosphere cultivated at Joliet Catholic Academy. Congratulations poured in for Mrs. Arnett, even on social media. Kurt Kleeman, JCA Class of 2004, remarked “Congrats Mrs. Arnett! You deserve it! I wouldn’t be the person I am today if it wasn’t for all your help! I am very thankful for all the time and effort you put in to make sure I was going to be successful is something I will always cherish and I can’t thank you enough.” Arnett was joined on the stage by a host of friends and family members, including her husband Todd, and sons Nathan, Ian, and Thomas. Mrs. Arnett capped off the ceremony saying, “the reason I’m here is because of all of you. I love teaching and watching you grow into leaders and young adults. Thank you.”
Click Here to view a complete photo gallery of the event courtesy of the JCA Photography Club.