OFFBEAT: Favorite teacher book includes classroom inspiration

Phil Potempa's daily entertainment news column
2013-06-19T00:00:00Z OFFBEAT: Favorite teacher book includes classroom inspirationBy Philip Potempa, (219) 852-4327

When retired Northwest Indiana educator Robert Krajewski contacted me in 2010 and asked me to contribute to a book dedicated to favorite teachers, it was difficult to narrow my choices.

Like our parents, teachers have lasting influence on our lives.

Author Krajewski, of Schererville, passed too soon at age 83 in May 2012. Formerly of East Chicago and Hammond, he served his entire professional career with the East Chicago schools and was superintendent for 38 years and appointed acting Indiana State Superintendent of Public Instruction in 1985.

Krajewski, from the East Chicago Washington High School class of 1946, devoted his final years to publishing this book that will now live on and share the assorted classroom memories of many for new generations. "My Teacher, My Future," ($6.95) is the title of the paperback released in 2011. The project was sponsored by the Educational Research Foundation of Indiana, a small nonprofit group of which he was the executive director.

From Butler University President Dr. Bobby Fong, Sen. Richard Lugar, former Indiana governors Otis Bowen and Mitch Daniels to Garfield the Cat's cartoonist creator Jim Davis and Dr. James Comer, a 1952 graduate of East Chicago Washington High School who now is the associate dean of the Yale University School of Medicine, Krajewski's book encourages education and awareness about the importance of today's teachers in the classroom.

"My book is a collection of memories from noted people from around the Hoosier state, Indiana's best and brightest in the fields of science, sports, medicine, entertainment, government service, business and the media," said Krajewski, who dedicated the book to his son James J. Krajewski, a 1975 graduate of Munster High School, who he said "was an attorney who passed away too soon, and whom I believe may have been more fulfilled as a teacher."

I dedicated my contributed chapter to one of my favorite high school teachers, Janet Hetterscheidt, who was also the adviser for my school's student government. Since I served as student council president during my high school senior year, I worked with her closely and learned plenty along the way, following her lead.

Mrs. Hetterscheidt passed away earlier this month, June 4, at age 71, while in Indianapolis with a heart ailment. She had just retired a few years earlier after more than 30 years with the North Judson-San Pierre High School Corporation.

Here's a portion of what I included in my contributed book chapter: "Mrs. Hetterscheidt was a teacher who made even the toughest and most tedious of responsibilities fun. I will always be grateful to her for providing advice and direction, which pushed me to rise above average standards, and also for reminding me to push myself to raise my own standards to strive for every goal, no matter how lofty it might seem. She introduced me to the future opportunities that await. She also highlighted the world that exists far beyond the small farming town that gave me such a great start in life."

Mrs. Hetterscheidt is missed by her family and the many like myself, who knew her. Krajewski's book is available at all of our local libraries or at

The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer. He can be reached at or (219) 852-4327.

Copyright 2014 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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