• Arlene Welch was a gentle, sincere and affectionate teacher who was dedicated to her students and their families.  The contributions she made to the lives of hundreds of individuals will be long remembered.  

    Arlene grew up on the south side of Chicago.  She attended St. Symphorosa Elementary School and Loretta High School.  She earned a bachelor's degree at DePaul University.  She began teaching at the elementary level back in 1959 when educators could begin working while still taking courses toward a college degree.  She married in 1963 and took a leave of absence to raise her family of three children.  When she returned to work, she started back by substitute teaching in surrounding school districts.

    She began her career with Indian Prairie District 204 by taking a second-grade position at Longwood Elementary School.  As the district began to grow and new schools were built, staff members were needed for the new teaching positions.  In 1987, Arlene moved with many staff members and friends to Indian Plains Elementary.  She remained there until February of 1989 when May Watts Elementary opened, and the Indian Plains staff moved there.

    Arlene officially retired in June of 1994 after 21 years of teaching.  Arlene loved children, and they loved her.  She welcomed them as though they were her own.  As the years would pass, Arlene took extraordinary efforts to keep in touch with her former young charges.  Arlene's love for people extended well beyond her own classroom.  Early in her career, she did volunteer work for the blind by transcribing written text into Braille.  She volunteered at Naperville's Little Friends, visited with women in the Illinois Women's Penitentiary in Dwight and volunteered at the juvenile center in Warrenville.  During the summer, Arlene would travel to a poor, deprived area of Mississippi.  There, she would volunteer to tutor children in first and second grades.  She would teach all morning five days a week.  In the afternoon, she would clean and help take care of the school inside and outside.  Fellow volunteers marveled at her enthusiastic and caring attitude.

    At school, Arlene was a kind of mother figure.  "She was the verteran," said Laura Cavallaro, who suggested that a District 204 school be name after Arlene.  "She took the new teachers under her wing.  We bounced ideas off her.  She checked up on us regardless of our grade level.  She was gentle, sincere and genuine."

    When she found time for herself, Arlene was with her family or outdoors, tending to her garden.  Each spring and fall she would split and separate her plants and flowers and share them with others.  Several co-workers and friends can still look into their own flower beds and see plants that originated in Arlene's garden.

    Arlene loved life to the fullest.  She could be seen frequently on a tennis court, bike path, or golf course, which, ironically, is where this great individual died, just beginning to learn to play golf.

    Arlene Welch cared very deeply for all those around her.  She felt strongly that individuals are obligated to help others and give back to their communities.  Arlene did just that by touching the lives of so many people - those who were young and those who were not so young.