Cindy VanLieu to retire after 25 years at Norrix, but still keeps traveling to new places


Credit: Amady Mboup

Art teacher Cindy VanLieu gives her students’ finished pieces back as the year winds down. VanLieu is clearing things out as she gets ready to retire at the end of this year.

Unique Payton

Cindy Vanlieu has been working as an art teacher for 51 years at 4 different schools. She has always loved art for herself and became a professional artist when she was 23 years old. VanLieu loves interacting with students and showing her creativity.

Sophomore Liam Albertson finds that in VanLieu’s Basic Design class, he is able to relieve his stressors and frustrations through free expression.

“I am able to express [myself] more [and] everyone can express differently. A lot of frustration, stress, anger: you can just erase it,” Albertson said.

VanLieu has been working at Loy Norrix since 1997 and has been running the Travel Club for 20 years. The travel club offers group travel to different countries for students, parents and staff. They have traveled to France, Mexico, Greece, Germany, Spain and more.

Throughout her years at Norrix, VanLieu even experienced students coming and leaving, not used to having over 1,600+ students in the building, and even the year and a half of teaching online due to COVID.

¨The school has completely changed from a smaller class size to a giant class size. The amount of students who are engaged in their school like school spirit and their connection to the school has really changed to the negative,¨ said VanLieu.

One of VanLieu’s closest friends on staff is English teacher Anne Lewis. They have worked together in the same building, traveled the world together, and instantly clicked because of how much they have in common.

¨Ms. Vanlieu is one of my dearest friends. She has shown me the world, I mean that literally, as my travel mentor, sort of my travel guide,¨ said Lewis.

Lewis and VanLieu have been friends for over 10 years and have many memories together, inside and outside of school. The memories they have and laugh about, no one will understand because they happened in different countries. They both love the show ¨Endeavor,¨ a BBC detective series on PBS, and they traveled to England to where it was filmed and had a tour around the set.

Lewis still has plans to see VanLieu after her retirement, and they will be traveling with a group this summer to Italy, England and France. In the summer of 2023 they will go to Spain and Portugal. Lewis says she will miss running down to VanLieu’s classroom and downloading the craziness that happens on an average day at Loy Norrix.

VanLieu has many plans after her retirement. She plans taking trips around the world and opening her art studio in the fall of 2023 where she plans to give lessons in fiber arts which includes weaving and sewing.

¨I am still going to do international trips, big trips, I am going to spend more time in France because I have French heritage and I love France so I’m going to stay 3 months,¨ said Vanlieu.

She has been planning her retirement for 5 years, and even then, she is still planning on being a chaperone for the travel club. She will be helping out the new leaders and having a fun experience with students. She is going to miss teaching art, interacting with students and seeing them produce something they thought they couldn’t do. VanLieu has loved seeing that creativity and the spark in students while making art. She is also going to miss the travel club but is still going to go with students and teachers, helping them guide and being a chaperone on the trips.

Loy Norrix will miss their favorite art teacher that has stayed around for more than 20 years, seeing the school changed, students moving on with their lives, and now seeing some students’ favorite teacher moving on with her life as well.

“I’m sad to see her go,” said Albertson. When asked if he had a favorite memory of VanLieu, he replied, “All of them.”

¨Loy Norrix will lose one of the most outstanding, creative talents: a great champion of students, and students will lose a mentor that was interested in art and design,¨ said Lewis.