By Joselyn Watkins
You know, she is just one of those people who keeps popping up in conversation and seems to be loved by everyone. She sometimes sells her beautiful jewelry here and there. Having recently retired from teaching, she has decided to take up painting as a hobby. Her name is Julie Maziarka. If you haven’t met her yet, a treat is waiting for you when you make her acquaintance.
She was born about six decades ago as Juliana Knick. Her mother always said that she might just grow up and marry her classmate with the name of Doug Knack and then she would be known as Julie Knick Knack. Julie relates this instance with a twinkle in her eye giving one a hint of her insatiable sense of humor.
Aside from a deep faith held by Julie, this sense of humor may just have helped her conquer and manage life as it seemed to come at her quickly. Her birth family never lived more than three years in any one town as her father was a Navy air man flying blimps and dirigibles at first and then becoming a test pilot. Several places that she lived were Florida, Hawaii and Virginia.
Wanderlust seemed to agree with Julie since her parents had moved many times so she continued to travel changing college venues several times. She attended the University of Hawaii, the University of Portland, Oregon and the University of Missouri. Finally, she completed her undergraduate degree from Old Dominion University in Virginia in 1975 with a BA in Philosophy..
Upon graduation Julie and Mike Maziarka married. They were married five years when they were about to have their first and only child Matt. It was then that Julie, seven months pregnant, received word that Mike had been in a serious automobile accident due to his having a brain aneurysm.
After racing to the hospital Julie was told by the doctors that Mike had virtually no chance of recovery. Their advice was for her to just wait and see how things progressed, but they were not optimistic at all that he would survive.
Not wanting to believe that this would be Mike’s final chapter, Julie contacted any and all ministers, priests and pastors asking them to have their congregations pray for Mike. Of course family and friends were all praying for him. Even then Julie asked anyone and everyone to pray earnestly for Mike. Also, she kept his room in the hospital a virtual party room and surrounded him with people coming and going at all times as well as music. She said that this was so, “he would want to return”.
Julie said that it was uncanny how people across the county would show up at the hospital with just what he needed at definitely the right time. Many showed support for Mike knowing that Julie wanted him stimulated with activity at all times.
After three weeks of coma, Julie and others noted Mike beating his foot to the music being played. He opened his eyes at this point and said, ”Just an Old Fashioned Love Song”, which was exactly the correct name of the song being played.
The Maziarka’s nightmare was basically over, but now the hard work for both of them began with Mike’s work to recover learning to walk and talk again. However, the good part of his recovery came as he assumed duties of being,”Mr. Mom” to Matt while Julie worked at the little office of Duke Power located in Lake Lure, North Carolina.
As time went by Julie decided to go to Gardner Webb College in Shelby, North Carolina to obtain a teaching certificate despite the family’s joke that she was indeed a “career student”. At this point she held down two jobs and completed the course. Ultimately, Julie has taught K through 2nd for 24 years at Sunny view Elementary School. Not only that, but she went on to complete her Master of Education Degree and is a National Board certified teacher.
Just ask Julie Maziarka how proud she is of Sunny View Elementary School. She says that Superintendent Bill Miller is superior as he hires good teachers and gives them everything they need in order to succeed. This might have a huge baring on the fact that for the past ten years Polk County Schools have been ranked one of the top five school systems in North Carolina for student performance. Julie says that she will miss her association with teaching very much.
This is just one story of a “jewel” of a teacher who with all odds against her rose to the occasion to help her family heal as well as to be a valuable asset to the community in which she lives.