Chesterton Tribune



Tom Schnabel running to retain School Board seat

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Retired Duneland Orchestra director Tom Schnabel is announcing his candidacy for the Jackson Township seat on the Duneland School Board.

Schnabel graduated from Terre Haute South Vigo HS in 1980, then attended Ball State University where he received his Bachelor’s degree in 1983. He taught orchestra briefly at Willowcreek MS in Portage, until hiring into the Duneland Schools in 1985. During his career in the Duneland Schools, Schabel was twice honored as Outstanding Music Alumni from BSU and later received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Indiana American String Teachers Association. While teaching at CHS, Schnabel led his orchestras to the ISSMA State Finals three times and once to a fourth-place finish. Schnabel retired in 2017, after a 32-year career.

Schnabel is now a sought-after guest conductor of middle school orchestra festivals around the state as well as judge of music contests. As a cellist he often plays at church and freelances in the region after many years with the Northwest Indiana Symphony and the LaPorte County Symphony.

Schnabel has long been active in the community, serving five years on the Youth for Christ Board of Directors and four years on the Porter County Parks and Recreation Board. He and his wife, Cindy, co-founded and co-directed Summer Symphony, a summer orchestra for Porter County youth, and in 2017 he founded the Northwest Indiana Rusty Strings, a non-audition adult group of local amateur players which meets once a week. Schnabel also served six years as an assistant coach of the Chesterton Middle School cross country team; and another six years as assistant coach of the CHS girls golf team.

Schnabel is currently filling the Jackson Township seat on the Duneland School Board on an interim basis.

Schnabel believes he provides the School Board with a broad and valuable perspective, that of a teacher who taught grades 5-12 and in multiple school buildings every year of his career. Schnabel strives in particular to contribute to the School Board as a team player and a consensus builder.

“The Duneland Schools have been good to me and my family,” Schnabel said in a statement released today to the Chesterton Tribune. “We made our home here and the schools have always been our home. So when several colleagues encouraged me to apply for the interim position on the School Board, I was glad to help out and hoped my experience and broad knowledge of the Duneland Schools would be an asset. Now, in these challenging times, when difficult decisions will need to be made, I am committed to doing my part to guide our education community all the way through, and at the same time to maintain the excellence which our schools are known for throughout the region.”

Schnabel has been married 37 years to his wife, Cindy, a violinist, who was a highly respected local orchestra director in her own right. Together they have been active at Liberty Bible Church for 27 years, serving in the music ministry and leading and participating in Bible studies as well as on various committees. They have two adult children who are CHS graduates.


Posted 8/13/2020





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