Meet Lake View French Teacher Valerie Wadycki

This is part of a continuing series of Q&A interviews with the people of Lake View and Amundsen high schools.

Q: Can you tell us a little bit about your career so far? What college did you attend? What did you study? Why did you choose teaching?

Valerie Wadycki LVHS.jpg

A: I attended the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana where I studied French. During my time at U of I, I was fortunate enough to study abroad in Paris. In addition to my classes at the Sorbonne, I held a part-time job teaching English in a French high school. This early experience in the classroom left an impression on me and reinforced my desire to teach. I’d be remiss not to mention that teaching is in my DNA as my mother was a CPS elementary school teacher and my father a professor at UIC.

Q: What classes do you teach at Lake View High School?

A: I currently teach French 2 and French 3/4, which is a split class. However, our World Language program is growing so we are looking to offer a full level 4 class next year, which is exciting.

Q: How do you see your students' high school experiences as similar to or different from your own?

A: I graduated from Von Steuben so there are definite similarities I notice in my students’ experiences when thinking of my own. I ran in the same Cross Country meets at Horner Park in which my students now compete. Students still get excited over pizza parties or school dances and pep rallies. That has not changed. However, what really differs from my experience is the role of technology. No longer do students pass notes during class, as notes are now digital.

One story I always share with my students was the circumstance which led me to become a French teacher. When I was in high school, I signed up to take Spanish and got placed in French. My students have sometimes experienced this same scenario. The moral of the story, however, is to always keep an open mind. I ended up loving the language, the class and my teacher, so you never know what life will bring you when you are open to it.

Q: What do you like best about teaching at Lake View High School?

A: It’s really difficult to pinpoint which aspect of teaching at Lake View is the best. I wake up every morning happy to come to work. I look forward to working with our students who never cease to impress me. On an academic level, I am proud when I see my students taking risks and getting out of their comfort zone using French. On a personal level, my students shine as they are respectful, thoughtful and fun to be around. I must also acknowledge my colleagues, as I work with a wonderful team of teachers who embrace collaboration and are extremely supportive. Not everyone gets to work with their friends, and it’s a real perk.

Q: What are Lake View High School's greatest strengths?

A: I think the leadership at Lake View is one of our greatest strengths. As a teacher I feel both supported and challenged to push my practice further. Our administration has implemented so many positive initiatives like the STEM program and the Innovation Academy. They are leading the way in expanding Advanced Placement and Dual Credit course offerings. Finally, they’ve forged partnerships with universities, corporations and our local community.

Q: Can you describe one particularly great moment you've had as a teacher at Lake View High School?

A: One particularly great moment I’ve had as a Lake View teacher was when one of my students arrived to class beaming ear to ear with a letter in his hand. He handed me the letter and (with his permission) I read it to the class as they burst into applause. It announced that he was receiving scholarship money to continue his French studies in college.