• Who was Wayne Builta?

    This information first appeared in the program for the Wayne Builta School "Dedication Ceremony" held on Sunday, Oct. 17, 1999 at 1:00 p.m. at Builta Elementary School.

    Wayne Builta was born and raised in Rockford, in northwestern Illinois. After high school, he spent four years serving in the U.S. Navy then earned a bachelor's degree in business education in 1975 at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Illinois.

    In that same year, Mr. Builta was one of the original staff members at Waubonsie Valley High School. He had just started a graduate program and lived in Bolingbrook with his wife and young son.

    Mr. Builta helped establish the foundations for the exceptional business programs evident today at both Waubonsie Valley and Neuqua Valley high schools. He was also the first cooperative education coordinator and, as such, cultivated partnerships with many area businesses so that students were able to experience the business world firsthand. The small size of Waubonsie's student body enabled Mr. Builta to devote individual attention to each of his students' needs. He was a conscientious and hard-working man and secured many full- and part-time jobs for his students. He also spent many hours visiting them at their job sites.

    As a classroom teacher, Mr. Builta was well known for the good rapport he had with students. Even his first-period classes were filled with young people who eagerly asked questions and obviously enjoyed learning from this soft-spoken and friendly young teacher. He was seen as firm and fair in discipline on the rare occasions that discipline was needed. He was respected and admired by students, parents and staff and was frequently commended for organizing the school's successful student Career Day. His experience, loyalty, attitude and poise made him a popular teacher.

    Mr. Builta's son, Brian, described his father as the "caretaker." "He worked a great deal with youth groups at church; and he really loved teaching, and he really loved his students," Brian said. "If you had a problem, he would help out in any way he could. He gave people money; he found them jobs; they came over to our house and he helped them out of some really big problems. He looked out for his students, and they knew he would always be available for them."

    "He was a jokester," Brian said, "a little boy inside a man's body, and somehow his students sensed that, and they would do anything for him. By 9 or 10 o'clock in the morning, he always had the infamous 5 o'clock shadow, and one year students in his morning accounting class gave him a razor for Christmas. When his car broke down along the roadway, something it did frequently, his students came along and towed it to school."

    On Labor Day weekend in 1981, when Mr. Builta was beginning his seventh year of teaching at Waubonsie, he and his family were involved in a car crash near Rockford. The other vehicle was driven by a young man who was later determined to be legally drunk. Mr. Builta's wife, Diane, was killed, and Mr. Builta remained in a coma for three years until his death in 1984. Brian was seriously injured but eventually recovered and was raised by an aunt and uncle. He recently graduated from college and is now studying for a master's degree in clinical psychology. He serves as a youth minister at a church in McHenry, Illinois.

    Brian is extremely pleased that a District 204 school has been named for his father. "It's been almost 20 years," he said, "and people still remember by dad. Former students and fellow teachers still remember what he did for them and the impact he had on them. I think this school is a real tribute."

    Head custodian, Jesse Lucena, is assisted by scout troop members in flag-raising ceremonies at the newly opened Wayne Builta Elementary School. The U.S. flag is the one given to the Builta Family when Wayne died.