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?
A: I attended Illinois Wesleyan University and majored in English and Secondary Education. Three years into teaching, I began my Masters in Reading at Northeastern University and am a Reading Specialist. I also taught the AVID program my third year of teaching, which has shaped my teaching style. My fifth-year teaching, I became National Board Certified in English. My ninth year of teaching, I received my Health and Physical Education endorsements. This is my 14th year teaching and 11th year at Lake View.
Q: What classes do you teach at Lake View?
A: I used to teach senior Honors English IV and junior Reading Language Arts, but now I teach freshmen Health and senior honors Senior Leaders, and a senior Physical Education class. I love talking about books and helping students become better writers for college, but wearing sweatpants to work every day is pretty great too.
Q: Do you sponsor or coach any clubs or sports? If so, please share a recent highlight.
A: I coach cross country and track and field, basically year-round. When I was training for my first Ironman triathlon, the track coach approached me about assistant coaching the distance runners, and I became hooked. Coaching provides a whole new dynamic with the students and improves my rapport with all of my kids. Highlights include seeing my seniors on the team go off to 4-year colleges. My most committed athletes are usually my most academically driven.
Q: How do you see your students' high school experiences as similar to or different from your own?
A: I was a high school athlete, balancing honors classes, work, and practice. I see my kids balancing homework with sports, and I relate to my own high school experience in that way.
Q: What do you like best about teaching at Lake View?
A: I like how joyous and charismatic students are at Lake View. They have been though many challenges, and I value supporting students in any way possible. Having been at Lake View for a while now, I love having younger siblings in classes years later. It is fun to meet different kids from the same family. I also love when students come back to visit and hearing about all the amazing things they are doing.
Q: What are Lake View's greatest strengths?
A: Lake View's greatest strength is its students. They are very diverse and from almost every area of Chicago. Students take the CTA from near and far, and their various backgrounds provide the school with a wonderful group of kids from everywhere.
Q: Can you describe one particularly great moment you've had as a teacher at Lake View?
A: I cannot give one great moment, because the greatest moments have happened with multiple students, multiple times. My great moments in teaching usually stem from kids coming from difficult backgrounds but overcoming the odds through hard work and support. Lake View has an amazing CARE team who targets struggling students with the idea that all students can be successful when provided the proper supports. Being a small part of a homeless student's journey to college, helping a student be the first in their family to be a senior in high school, or writing a recommendation letter for a student so they can be accepted to the university of their dreams makes for pretty fulfilling days.
Q: What advice would you give to students just choosing Lake View? How can they get the most out of their high school years there?
A: The way to get the most out of Lake View or any high school is to be involved and connected. Whether it is a club or a sport, the more students join, the more connection and motivation they feel in their day. Clubs and sports teach character and time management. They expand students' networks and provide a larger safety net of support, so no matter what challenges they are facing in their lives, they have a large group of people that care about getting them back on track.