Staff fondly remembers Deb Durso


Hannah Kopek, Sports Editor

As Brookfield Zoo opens their gate to the public for their Holiday Magic Zoo Lights, staff fondly remember Debra Durso, former dean, and her son Michael Altenhoff, who loved to visit there annually.
According to Pat Mladic, secretary, Christmas was Durso’s favorite holiday. She was also known to go all out at Halloween, hand making costumes for her son Michael.
“There was never a time in all of the years I had known her that I heard her complain or say a negative thing,” Mladic said. “She was the most positive person we could ever meet in our entire lives.”
Durso worked as a dean at Central for over twenty years before her passing in October. During her tenure, she worked closely with members of staff, and even helped some to advance their careers.
“I owe her my start,” Matthew Ambrose, assistant principal, said.
Prior to being an assistant principal, Ambrose was a Driver’s Ed instructor. While Durso was on maternity leave, Ambrose stepped in as an interim dean and because of the experience he acquired, Ambrose eventually became a dean, and later an assistant principal.
“Deb was always willing to help people out,” Ambrose said. “She was the person we went to. She had the knowledge, she had the experience, and we all learned from her.”
Durso lived in North Plainfield, near many other staff members.
“I would always run into her at the Aldi, or the Meijer,” Jason Kopek, school resource officer, said. “We joked around about stalking each other.”
John Rosner, dean, lived near Durso. Whenever she needed help with something, Rosner was just minutes away.
“I’ll miss getting calls to help her around the house and outside,” Rosner said.
Durso was also a fervent Chicago sports fan, frequently sporting a Chicago Cubs or Chicago Blackhawks jersey.
“I am a huge White Sox fan,” Dave Stephens, principal, said. “The only person I have ever put on a Chicago Cubs shirt was for Ms. Durso. Then she took a picture and showed it to a whole bunch of people from outside of school. They still use it against me.”
More so, Durso is remembered for her passion of helping students.
“She took in students who were lost and couldn’t find their way, and they ended up in college, or in the services,” Mladic said.
Her twenty years of service has left a lasting impact.
“She was the rock of the deans’ office,” Ambrose said.