Education Under Fire These Days, But Nothing Can Persuade These Teachers They’re In The Wrong Profession – Chicago Tribune
The teaching profession has received rather poor reports lately. Earlier this month, CBS News reported that the number of vacancies in Illinois schools has risen to 28%, with Illinois Education Association President Kathi Griffin saying, “I think what deters people from entering the profession is that you have so much negativity out there about education, when in fact it is one of the most amazing professions there is.
Here in Naperville, the picture is less bleak, in large part because of the tremendous amount of support and resources our school districts provide to their teachers.
Alex Mayster, executive director of communications for Naperville School District 203, tells me that they’ve filled all of their full-time certified positions, though they’re still looking for substitute teachers. Lisa Barry, her counterpart from School District 204 in Indian Prairie, says they have over 120 new teachers this year and are “very proud that 11% of them graduated from our district.”
The shortage isn’t something that happened overnight, according to Louis Lee, assistant superintendent of human resources for District 204. Over the past 12 years, fewer students have applied for college prep programs. education, he said.
“The state sees a huge (problem with) vacancies,” he said. “While there may be many variables present for the decline, the recent COVID-19 pandemic coupled with increased public criticism of the teaching profession has accelerated the effects causing the current shortage.”
The result is a drop in the number of applicants for teaching posts and vacancies for teaching assistants and specialist teaching.
Despite this, Naperville school districts are attracting new teachers. I spoke with three of them about why they give their profession an A grade.
Shelby Winston, 27, is entering her fifth year with a move to the Ann Reid Early Childhood Center in District 203. She is in the process of moving here from Chicago.
“I started my career teaching in Chicago public schools, but it was a challenge to work without resources and with a lot of children with significant trauma,” she said. “I came here because I think I deserve to be in a district with abundant partnerships and resources.”
Winston now teaches an extended mixed class, which is a mix of general population children and others with special needs.
“Kindergarten stole my heart,” she admits. “It is the basis of their education. They are so curious and have this passion to learn more and I have the energy to give it to them. I am an incredibly patient person and want to bring my talent and patience to early childhood.
Winston said while the pandemic has certainly changed the way he teaches, it hasn’t changed the way children have learned.
“Zoom was incredibly difficult with the little ones because they have such a hard time concentrating, but I would include a lot of play time on camera to foster a community virtually,” she said.
Winston is the daughter of an educator, but says her mother tried to keep her away from the profession because “she wouldn’t make any money”.
“You have a lot of people who look down on it – think of the saying, ‘those who can’t, teach’ – but it’s the most rewarding but underrated career you could ever get into,” she said. declared. “I do it for the love of children.”
Will Marshall, 24, began his teaching career last year at Burlington Central in Kane County, but is entering his second year with a fresh start at Naperville Central High School.
“I came out of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee with a deep knowledge of the ideal situation, but that was nothing compared to my real-life experiences,” said Marshall, who comes from a family of educators.
“Now that I have a year under my belt, I work with more confidence,” he said.
Although he grew up in McHenry County, Marshall says he always knew Naperville’s reputation.
“They understand it’s a partnership; the idea that it takes a village to support these children,” he said. “I see a huge investment from teachers and administration in student success. It’s genuine and I’m thrilled to be the adult in their lives who can cheer them on.
Marshall teaches biology in second grade. He says his passion for science started when he was young, with a natural curiosity for the scientific world, he said.
“My why is that I’ve found my heart for children is huge,” he said. “You make lasting connections at a time in their lives that is very influential. I like that I can be a resource and someone they can talk to. I think that’s the lasting relationships, that’s what the veteran teachers.
“You never know who will be in your class. It’s just knowing that you will be part of the growth of this child. I can play a small role in helping a child find their identity and become a quality member of society.
A graduate of Still Middle School and Waubonsie Valley High School in Aurora, 27-year-old Sarah Bailey is entering her first year as a special education teacher at Scullen Middle School in Naperville.
“I did my baccalaureate in pharmacy. I thought the science was OK, but what I really liked was the contact with the patients and I really liked working with people with disabilities,” she said. “I was president of the Dance Ensemble at the University of Kentucky and we did outreach for students with moderate to severe special needs and I loved it.”
After switching to psychology, Bailey earned a master’s degree at Aurora University, then substituted for a year at Lockport before returning to the Naperville School District.
“At first, I liked working with toddlers, but I found I felt better with middle schoolers,” she said. “This fall, I am working at Scullen’s Multi-Needs Self-Contained Unit for various disabilities.”
Bailey says she is passionate about helping students reach their full potential.
“I am thrilled to join a team of very experienced teachers and to welcome children into the building,” she said. “It’s back to normal after the pandemic, but we’re still seeing learning loss. Many have caught up but some are still struggling.
Hilary Decent is a freelance journalist who moved from England to Naperville in 2007.