Pulchinski named Pacelli’s top teacher

Published 7:01 am Sunday, March 5, 2017

By Jean McDermott

Pacelli Catholic Schools

A woman whose former student called “a teacher of a lifetime” was named Pacelli’s 2017 Teacher of the year.

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Linda Pulchinski has spent 38 years with Austin Catholic Schools and, according to 2011 graduate Stephanie Kocer, she not only “taught us school subjects, she taught us how to be smart, savvy, polite individuals.”

Linda Pulchinski, who was named Pacelli Teacher of the Year. Photo provided

Linda Pulchinski, who was named Pacelli Teacher of the Year. Photo provided

Pulchinski was one of six individuals honored for their contributions to Catholic education during the annual Winter Gala, held Feb. 27 at the Four Daughters Vineyard and Winery near Spring Valley.

“She taught me how to be a critical thinker and to always want to learn,” Kocer said in her nomination letter. “I specifically remember her teaching my class how to write a proper essay. That skill alone got me through four years of being an English major in college. In fact, it was her way of always presenting students with new obstacles that she knew would challenge and teach us that led me to have the confidence to go after everything I’ve wanted later in my life and career. I doubt there are many teachers whose words of wit and wisdom still ring clear in their student’s minds like Mrs. P’s can. She was one of my first mentors, and not just a ‘teacher of the year,’ but a teacher of a lifetime.”

Others honored were Daniel O. Adams, Scott Bissen and Michelle Morey, and Mike and Kitty Garry.

Gala honorees, from left, Daniel O. Adams, Mike and Kitty Garry, Michelle Morey and Scott Bissen. Photo provided.

Gala honorees, from left, Daniel O. Adams, Mike and Kitty Garry, Michelle Morey and Scott Bissen. Photo provided.

Dan Adams

Adams, Pacelli class of 1967, was born and raised just outside of Austin. He attended Queen of Angels Grade School and graduated from Pacelli High School. He graduated from Austin Junior College and the University of Minnesota Institute of Technology with a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering in 1971.

Adams shared that you have to “change with the times” to keep one’s work current. He began his career designing gas and diesels engines for eight years at Onan Corp. In Fridley; then became project manager for photographic processing equipment for four years at PAKO Corp in Golden Valley. As the world of film became replaced by digital technology, he became manager, director and vice president of SiMed /Boston Scientific Inc. Cardiology Research and Product Development for 17 years in Maple Grove.The company grew from $8 million in sales of membrane oxygenators to over $1 billion in sales of angioplasty balloon catheters, stents and ancillary equipment by 2000.

His career continued as vice president of research and development of cardiology products for three years at EV-3 Inc. in Plymouth and then as independent consultant to St. Jude medical divisions on patent generation. He holds 66 U.S. patents and all but one related to medical devices. He is married to wife, Sue, with a son, Ben, of Atlanta and daughter, Jessica, of San Francisco. He also has two grandchildren. Hobbies include boating, fishing, guitar and banjo, golf, and motorcycling. He is retired and enjoys winters in Florida.

Scott Bissen

Bissen, Pacelli class of 1984, was born and raised in Austin, attended Queen of Angels Grade School and graduated from Pacelli High School. Bissen and his wife, Michelle Morey, a breast cancer survivor, founded the Pay It Forward Fund in 2005.

Pay It Forward Fund was founded as the couple realized the difficulty many women had in maintaining essential living expenses when they were dealing with cancer treatment. At the end of Morey’s cancer treatment, she and her husband, began donating money to North Memorial Medical Center in Robbinsdale to help other cancer patients pay their bills. Some of the money went to turn a patient’s water back on, which also kept the woman’s children out of foster care.

Ever since their first donation was used to turn a patient’s water back on, they have been passionate about helping other women who are undergoing cancer treatment. Since then, the fund has helped patients buy groceries, pay their mortgages, heat their homes, keep their lights and water on, and repair their cars so they can drive to chemotherapy.

For hundreds of women in need, these gifts have made a difference at a time of crisis. Some recipients have paid it forward by donating to the fund, while others do so in more tangible ways like offering rides, preparing meals, volunteering to help with childcare, or making phone calls and sending cards to show their support.

Now in its 12th year, Pay It Forward works with 13 metro hospitals and has paid $1.9 million in patient expenses.

Mike and Kitty Garry

Unlike the first two honorees, Mike and Kitty Garry did not attend Catholic schools, however they have been strong supporters of Austin Catholic Schools for over 40 years.

According to Jim Parlin, who nominated the Garrys for this recognition, “The Garry’s have given of themselves to Pacelli for many years. They sent all of their children through the Catholic school system. They were very visible supporters of their children at Pacelli events including athletics, theater performances and more.

“Mike and Kitty have been at all our fundraisers and promotional events over the years. They also operated a printing business out of their home and were always willing to print brochures, raffle tickets, school stationery and many other things when needed. Kitty was the Catholic elementary school physical education teacher for many years. She had a great influence on my own children and so many others over the years as a promoter a good physical health.

“I had the good fortune of coaching several of their kids over the years that they attended Pacelli. Mike and Kitty were the kind of parents that took a strong interest in their kids’ success without being pushy or overbearing. I cannot think of any family that has done more to represent Pacelli and the values that Pacelli promotes.”