FRIENDLY, CARING, KIND, GENEROUS

July 2, 2020

For information on enrollment and registration at Notre Dame, please visit the admissions section of our website here.

Longtime staffer Mary Jane Pasko calls it a career after 17 years at Notre Dame.

A large group of Notre Dame teachers, staff and administrators were on hand this week to bid a socially distanced and fond farewell to a real institution at the 25-year-old school. They were at NDPMA because after 15 years working seemingly effortlessly with a near-constant smile at the main office desk and keeping the gears of Notre Dame Prep moving smoothly, Mary Jane Pasko has decided to retire, effective June 30, 2020.

For those who worked most directly with Pasko, it was a day to celebrate and remember the thousands of school days of having a real impact on the daily life of Notre Dame, according to her "boss," Fr. Joe Hindelang, s.m., principal of NDP.

"The people who work in the office are the voice and face of the school and deliver our mission to the students, staff, alums and families," he said. "Mary Jane has been day-in and day-out a friendly presence for people who always goes out of her way to make everyone's day better. Her generosity, faith and humor are always evident."

It wasn't uncommon on any given school day to walk into the NDP main office and find Pasko juggling two or three phone calls from parents while four or five students and a couple of teachers were vying for her attention. And she did it all with ease, aplomb and with a big smile.

"Mary Jane has a way to make anyone she knows feel special," said NDP Vice Principal Kim Anderson. "She learns everyone's name and something about them so that she truly knows them. She cares deeply about students and staff at NDP and she takes care of everyone, giving them whatever they need to feel better, from a band-aid to even her own lunch." 

Mary Jane Pasko, right, is with Sonya Simmons NDP'19 at an event held last year.


One of those thousands of students over the years who Pasko truly knew and cared about was Sonya Simmons NDP'19, who's had a special place in Mary Jane's heart — and vice versa.

"The special thing Mrs. Pasko does is genuinely take the time to learn as much about you as possible," Simmons said. "If you give her the ability to do so, she will become one of your best friends and will always look out for you. Her kindness and love know no boundaries and you never have to question her loyalty. I'm so thankful to have had her the entirety of my high school career as she blesses any life she enters."

The Irish in Italy

For Pasko, she has mixed feelings about leaving the people she cares so much about. She said she looks forward to having more time to spend with her husband, Randy, and their children, Jacquelene NDP’06, Christine NDP’07 and John NDP’10.

But she's also going to miss a lot.

"Of course, the Marist Fathers and Brother Louis and all the teachers are amazing and I consider them all good friends who I will miss dearly," she said. "But the students! I will really miss the students! I've always found high school students to be so funny and amusing. I will also miss their parents, many of whom I consider personal friends."

Pasko, who spent two years working in the counseling office before coming to the main office, said she always loves running into Notre Dame families while out and about — and that can be literally anywhere in the world.

Pasko is with her husband, Randy, at this week's retirement celebration at Notre Dame Prep.


"I was in downtown Rome, Italy, on vacation one year and we just happened to change course and take a less-crowded street for walking," she said. "We were one of only two groups on the same side of this street. The other group was the Cillufo family: Mr. and Mrs. Cilluffo, Kristen NDP'13 and Tony NDP'15. What are the chances?"

She said as she reflects back on her career at NDPMA, it really did seem like it went by in a flash. 

"I can remember the beginning and the end, but the middle is just a blur. I love staying connected with the alums and will continue to do so. Also, working for a Catholic School allowed me to practice and learn more about my faith and the Society of Mary."

Andy Guest, NDPMA's head of school, said in congratulating Pasko on her retirement that her presence has been critical in the school's history.

"Mary Jane is an institution at our school," he said. "She has positively affected thousands of students and alumni over the 17 years she's worked in the front office. Her generosity and dedication to our Catholic, Marist mission will not be forgotten, and we all wish her well in her retirement."

With Pasko's retirement, longtime NDPMA staffers Joan Kopytek and Carrie Lytle have agreed to share duties in the main office alongside Janet Twardecki, who will continue to handle upper school attendance.

Others retiring

Pasko is one of three longtime staffers who have decided to retire this year. Jim Travis, who's been keeping students and staff safe since 2008 working in campus security, has retired and will now be able to spend more time with his wife, Barb, who retired from campus security last year. 

Julie Frakes worked as the school's facility manager for nine years and business office assistant since last July. She also is retiring, effective June 30. According to Rick Winiarski, who took over Frakes' facilities role last year, her business office assistant position will be taken over by Theresa Meganck.

Frakes' two sons, Michael and Shane, both graduated from Notre Dame Prep. She began working at NDPMA in 2007 as assistant to the registrar.

Notre Dame CFO Tony Block has worked with Frakes for many years in the business office. He says her presence on campus will be missed.

"Julie has been a true joy to work with and has been a valued part of the Notre Dame community," he said. "She brought a spirit of happiness to everything she did. We will all miss her and her smile as she constantly and almost literally ran throughout our buildings on campus to make sure things got done."
 

For information on enrollment and registration at Notre Dame, please visit the admissions section of our website here.

Comments or questions? mkelly@ndpma.org

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About Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy
Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy is a private, Catholic, independent, coeducational day school located in Oakland County. Notre Dame Preparatory School enrolls students in grades nine through twelve and has been named one of the nation's best 50 Catholic high schools (Acton Institute) four times since 2005. Notre Dame's middle and lower schools enroll students in pre-kindergarten through grade eight. All three school are International Baccalaureate "World Schools." NDPMA is conducted by the Marist Fathers and Brothers and is accredited by the Independent Schools Association of the Central States and the North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement. For more on Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy, visit the school’s home page at www.ndpma.org.