A La Porte County Life in the Spotlight: Joyce Westphal

Joyce-WestphalBorn and raised in Michigan City, Indiana, Joyce Westphal left the area briefly to pursue a career with Northwest Airlines' Chicago office before returning to Michigan City when she married a hometown boy and wanted to make their home in the area.

For the past twenty-nine years, Joyce Westphal has worked for Michigan City High School, previously Rogers High School, in various capacities. Originally hired into the attendance office as a secretary, she soon moved to the secretarial position in the discipline office. She entered the school with the intention of obtaining a sports physical form for her son, who was going to be entering the 9th grade and wanted to start in tennis. The secretary in the attendance office had just resigned and suggested Westphal apply for the job. Westphal was hesitant, only wanting a part-time job at the time, but couldn't resist the lure of having the same schedule as her children – free to spend time with them on their holidays and breaks, a luxury not many other jobs offer.

"I loved working in both offices," Westphal said, "Working with the assistant principals and working with the kids in the discipline office. I always enjoyed the work and talking with the kids. It was great being able to get to know all of the people in the school. Some of the students that knew me when they were in school are now parents of students at the school. It's great to see them again in different stages of their lives."

Currently, Westphal works as the principal's secretary, a position she has held since 2002. Westphal is responsible for making sure the school principal has everything he needs to run the school as smoothly as possible on a day-to-day basis. She is also responsible for issuing work permits to the students, creating the master schedule for all the teachers' classes, helping new teachers settle in and prepare for their first day, taking care of substitute teachers, sending out the monthly electronic Wolf Flyer, counting ballots for the Homecoming Queen, and coordinating the other secretaries and their jobs. Another very important job Westphal has is to coordinate the graduation ceremony every spring.

"It's a big job, and a busy job, but I would not trade one day of it," Westphal said. "I love the work, the people, and the excitement of it. I feel grateful that I've had the opportunity to help so many people."

Westphal's work does not go unnoticed at the high school. Back in 2005, unknown to her, the staff nominated her for the Secretary of the Year award through the Indiana Principal's Association, and she won!

"I was thrilled that they nominated me," Westphal said. "It was very special and an experience that I will never forget."

In what remains of her spare time, Westphal enjoys many hobbies and activities. She is an avid reader, starting when she was very young, reading any kind of material that comes across her path – from magazines to novels, especially fiction. She enjoys walking and biking, and watching her granddaughter's varsity volleyball games.

"I've been married to my husband for forty-six years," Westphal said. "We have two children – a daughter and a son – a daughter-in-law, and a granddaughter. Those are the important things in my life."