When people think of teachers, the stereotype is usually someone teaching math, English, or maybe science. Yet there are whole other categories of teachers for things like computers, woodworking, or in Glen Buford’s case, the culinary arts. Teachers like him fill an essential role in student academics, life and career skills.
Buford, who teaches at Boone Grove through the Porter County Career Center, is a Hobart native and longtime Valparaiso resident. Apart from his time in the Navy, including some service in Vietnam, he has called Northwest Indiana home all his life. For about 30 years, Buford worked in the restaurant business, owning, operating, or otherwise working with McDonalds, Applebee’s, and Buffalo Wild Wings stores across the region.
“The food service has a lot going on, there’s always something to be doing,” said Buford. “I enjoy the atmosphere and the camaraderie. Sometimes it’s a huge challenge, and at McDonald’s so many people have it as their first job, so there’s a lot of training involved.”
Even without the official job title, Buford has always been a teacher. Many of his employees went on to do great things, like his first assistant at McDonald’s, Dr.Peggy Buffington, who is now Superintendent for the School City of Hobart. Buford’s position at Boone Grove is very dynamic, he not only teaches their students, but those from across the area looking for a culinary class through the Porter County Career Center. His students even get the chance to practice their skills in restaurants and dining halls across the Region.
“One of the reasons I’m doing it is because I didn’t see myself in retirement sitting at home reading books,” explained Buford. “I wanted to do something. So, when I found out about this I was all onboard to get involved, because I know so many students are expected to go to college out of high school. The opportunities from the career center let people know there are things other than college.”
Outside of his time teaching, Buford is big on community. For the last 30 years, he’s been a statistician for Valpo High School’s football team. Back when he attended Hobart High School, they were one of the most dominant teams in the region and it kick started an appreciation for high school sports.
“I followed the Brickies for quite a few years, especially with my brother coaching there,” said Buford. “It just so happened that Mark Hoffman lived about five doors down the street from me when I moved to Valpo, and he asked if I’d like to keep stats. So, I got hooked on that and have done it for a long time!”
With three adult children, five granddaughters, and a 40-year marriage, family is of course another big focus for Buford. The desire to teach runs in the family, as one daughter is a principal in the Chicago area. His wife, Leila, is another Region native as well.
“She’s from Merrillville, but has been in Hobart and Valpo also,” said Buford. “She’s been the driving force of my life.”
Raising a family is no easy feat and Buford is happy to have done it in Northwest Indiana. He has developed a strong appreciation for the things that make it such a unique and often dynamic place to live.
“Well, you know we’re kind of in the country, especially here in Valpo you don’t have to go far to end up in a cornfield,” he joked. “Or, you could go in Chicago and do all kinds of things. To be able to move around from city to suburban life is something I’ve enjoyed. It’s a growing, busy area. I am getting to where I don’t enjoy the snow as much as I used to though!”