I began my teaching career at North Chicago Community High School in the fall of 2007 during my student teaching semester. When I was offered a job there the following semester, I took it. Teaching at NCCHS the following four years was difficult and stressful work, but I had some incredible team members, an awesome mentor and collaborator, and amazing students who honed my skills and never let me lose sight of why I went into teaching in the first place.
At the close of the 2011-2012 school year, I chose to leave the classroom for the SIG position and I gained valuable experience through it. However, because I had given up my seniority and call back rights when I left the classroom, when the SIG ended after the 2013-2014 school year I did not have a position to return to at NCCHS.
I accepted a position at Antioch Upper Grade School as a Guided Reading and Communications Teacher for 2014-2015. It was the perfect crash course in middle school, as I was able to teach in multiple capacities and at each grade level. Although it was a positive and pleasant experience, I missed NCCHS greatly, confirming for me that North Chicago is my teaching heart’s home.
At the end of the 2014-2015 year, I was assured that although I had been RIFed I would have a position at AUGs for the following school year. However, with the backdrop of my past experience, I thought it best to explore my options. This exploration brought me back to North Chicago, this time to NMSA. Val Pientka and Alyssa McDonald, my predecessor, former colleague, and friend, had told me throughout the school year how much they loved working at NMSA. My husband, who had also joined the North Chicago family during the previous year, had also spoken very highly of the impressive work at NMSA.
When the choice between returning to the confirmed position at AUGS or returning to North Chicago as the ELA coach at NMSA was presented, the decision was a matter of heart and the words of NMSA staff. Alyssa and Val were very encouraging and clearly proud of NMSA, but it was the thoughts of my husband that confirmed my choice. He explained that he saw this as the perfect opportunity for me to work under the leadership of a very strong and intelligent female principal through whom I could learn much. After a long yet very fast walking talk with Principal King, I knew that it was time to follow my heart home to North Chicago. I know my year visit to AUGS was the providentially planned essential piece previously missing in my preparation for this position. As I am again in a SIG position, I may not be able to stay for long, but I am thrilled that I chose NMSA. If given the opportunity, I would #choosenmsa again.
Dedicated to the memory of Debbie Stefanik, mentor, collaborator, friend, and D187 teacher for 20 years. Thank you for believing, pushing, and challenging me. You are deeply missed.