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Naperville Central High School's award-winning newspaper.

Central Times

Naperville Central High School's award-winning newspaper.

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Math and World and Classical Languages department secretary leaves legacy of ‘dedication’ as ‘ultimate professional’

Photo Credit: 2023 Flight Yearbook
Karen Kukulski

Karen Kukulski, a department secretary for Central’s World and Classical Languages and Math departments for two years, passed away on May 14, 2023. 

“Once she started [working] we felt like we just hit the jackpot in terms of having this terrific person to work with,” said Scott Miller, the math department chair.

Part of Kukulski’s job was managing two different departments two floors away from each other.

“She was unbelievable at her job,” said Ignacio Gamboa, the World & Classical Languages department chair. “She found a system that worked for her to juggle two different departments on two different floors, two different sets of staff. That set her apart from other other department secretaries because she was able to get to know staff on the third floor and [on the first floor] in addition to working with all the other administrative assistants and secretaries.”

Kukulski was known for her love of traditions, especially birthdays.

“One of our traditions in this particular department is to have a birthday Secret Santa,” Gamboa said. “She took it upon herself to organize that for us, continuing the tradition we had already done even though she was new, on the day of a teacher’s birthday. She sent a message to that person and included the rest of the department just to say happy birthday and went so far to put it in the language that they teach. She went above and beyond what her role was as the administrative assistant for us.”

Kukulski had worked in her position at Naperville Central since May 2021. Prior to becoming a department secretary, Kukulski worked at Central as a substitute for multiple years.

Every morning Kukulski would arrive “super early” into the building and talk with Kathleen Gasser, a Spanish Teacher at Central, Miller said.

“So I’d get in about 6:15 every morning and she would already be there with coffee brewing and all the lights on and a cheery ‘good morning,’” Miller said. “She was just a very positive person.”

Kukulski is also remembered by others as being exemplary at her position and helping the two departments succeed on a daily basis.

“Karen got our department and the math department into tip-top shape. She almost knew what we needed before we did,” Gasser said. “Any problem that we had, whether it be with the mastery manager or trying to figure out points for a Scantron final exam, she could figure it out. She was the ultimate professional as our departmental secretary.”

Kukulski is survived by her son and fiancé.

A gofundme was set up to benefit Kukulski’s son’s education shortly after his mother passed.

“She really was a dedicated individual, but she also was a dedicated mom,” Gamboa said. “The things that she would tell us about what or how she did things with her son just stood out that it was important for her to be close, not only geographically but emotionally with her family.”

Gamboa and other staff members had nominated Kukulski for Educational Support Staff of the Year Award at Central multiple times because of the “dedication she brought to the position,” Gamboa said.

“Mr. Gamboa and I thought other departments or the district office would want to come in trying to attract her to another position,” Miller said. “She was just so terrific and wonderful at what she did. I miss her smile, her laugh, her interaction with people and how she would brighten people’s day.”

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About the Contributor
Jay Deegan
Jay Deegan, Print Managing Editor
Jay Deegan is a Junior at Central and happy to start his third year of journalistic adventures at the Central Times. Jay loves writing features and diving in-depth into issues that plague our community. In his free time Jay runs a freelance videography and photography business and loves to creatively express his interests in sports and filmmaking. If you’d like to join CT or have a tip, reach out!
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