Northeastern Junior College bid farewell to two longtime employees at a retirement reception Tuesday.
Diane Reuszer, who retired at the end of last year, has been with NJC’s Liberal Arts Department teaching English and communication for 21 years and has been in education for 51 years, including teaching at Miami Dade College.
“I always considered Diane a true educator,” NJC President Jay Lee said. “One of the things I enjoyed watching Diane as an educator is her willingness to try things and I know that for some educators that’s a difficult thing to do, to venture out into different aspects or venues in terms of how you teach and what you teach, but, she seemed to have a willingness to do that.”
Celeste Delgado-Pelton, chair of the Liberal Arts Department, shared a message from Linda Merkl, vice president of academic affairs, who thanked Reuszer for her steadfast support. Merkl pointed out that Reuszer’s strength and courage as she dealt with her own health issues during the pandemic was a good reminder that “we can do this.” Reuszer led the way by choosing to find workable solutions for every situation, even teaching outside during the fall semester until students decided it was too cold.
In addition to her regular English/communication courses, Reuszer has always stepped in where needed over the years, teaching psychology and some literature courses. Delgado-Pelton also noted that she served on numerous committees, including most recently curriculum and instruction and as NJC’s representative for the statewide Faculty Advisory Council. Plus, she was very active in promoting skin safety and awareness and educating students on how to take care of themselves, and she helped with various activities on campus including taking tickets at theater events.
Delgado-Pelton thanked Reuszer for her “wicked, dry” sense of humor.
“Diane was kind of a lifesaver throughout the pandemic. I think a lot of us felt like we were just holding on for dear life, trying to transition and do all the things we had to do and every day Diane would send a funny to Linda Merkl and myself, and to have that moment of humor, to be able to just laugh at the world was just such a blessing throughout the last year,” she said.
In addition to sharing her humor, Reuszer is the first person to step in when there is an emergency, when a staff member experiences a tragedy or a health crisis she is the first one to say “what do you need? How can I help?”
Delgado-Pelton also spoke of some of the many other things Reuszer has done in her life besides teaching, including modeling, training dogs for search and rescue, and training and competing with her horses.
“Diane’s instruction has always been top of the line. She is innovative, she is always rethinking and reworking and deciding how she can better herself for her students,” Delgado-Pelton said.
In her remarks, Reuszer told her colleagues “it has been an absolute pleasure to work here,” adding that she’s not gone for good, she will continue to teach part-time. “It has absolutely been a pleasure to be part of this family; you are the most wonderful group of people.”
Alice Weingardt worked at NJC for 33 years before retiring last year. She started full-time at the college at age 19, after completing one year as a student. While working she eventually completed her associate’s degree through NJC and then a bachelor’s degree through National American University.
She has worked in just about every office on campus, starting as an administrative assistant for CTE (career technical education), then moving to the Planning Development and Communications Department. After nine years, she accepted the director of public relations position and then following a reorganization of NJC she spent a short time in the documents center before moving to her final position in 2004, one of the toughest jobs on campus, financial aid director.
“I think all of us that have worked in education for any period of time, be it one year or 34 years, you know how difficult financial aid is in terms of how we serve students and the challenges that are related to that side. But Alice did that job very well for us and served the college and our students in an exceptionally good way,” Lee said.
Steven Smith, vice president of student services, shared some comments from her colleagues, many of whom said they enjoyed getting to know Weingardt not only as a supervisor but as a friend.
“It was important to Alice that her employees felt valued and that everything they did was important to her and this college. There was always an open line of communication and nothing they couldn’t talk to Alice about,” one colleague said.
Another said “Alice was very knowledgeable in her position and had great rapport with students, parents, and staff. She would do anything for anybody and was always willing to give out a helping hand.”
A third colleague spoke about Weingardt’s commitment to her work and NJC, never taking a day off of work, even when her son was fighting cancer.
“She chose to give NJC her all, she always did,” they said.
Students always left her office feeling as though they had their questions answered and that she truly cared and wanted to help them with their situation, and colleagues knew they could go to her for help with anything.
When she wasn’t busy working with students, she volunteered for as many committees as she could, helping plan galas and anniversary celebrations.
“She was a true walking definition of the words Northeastern Family,” one of her colleagues said.
Weingardt thanked her coworkers for all of their support over the years.
“NJC was a wonderful place to work; I really enjoyed it,” she said.
Also retiring, but unable to attend Tuesday’s reception are Maret Felzien, director of Monahan Learning Center; Connie Henderson, science instructor; and Kent Ross, English/journalism instructor.