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Teachers' Lounge live from an actual elementary school teachers' lounge

Teachers' Lounge chats with North Grove Elementary School kindergarten teacher Denise Ackmann
Susan Stephens
Teachers' Lounge chats with North Grove Elementary School kindergarten teacher Denise Ackmann

For the first time ever, Teacher's lounge is coming to you from a real teachers’ lounge at a school! We went to North Grove Elementary in Sycamore, Illinois. It was early in the morning, with coffee brewing about 15 feet from us. Red pens were writing, meetings starting, and somewhere kids were just about ready to be rolling into the building.

We had multiple conversations with educators who teach a range of different grade levels from kindergarten through 5th grade and folks that focus on technology. We asked them ‘How has the pandemic changed you as an educator?’

It's probably the understatement of the century that it’s been a very weird couple of years for education -- whether it be learning loss, learning from home, juggling teaching in person and online at the same time and then coming back. That's not even to touch on the trauma and anxiety and fear that so many families and kids have felt. And we know that with social-emotional learning and technology, there's been a ton of upheaval.

We really wanted to hear about how that's changed people as teachers: the way they do their work and the way they interact with the kids that they're in the classroom with each and every day.

We were also lucky enough to record video of all of our conversations that can be found on our WNIJ YouTube channel.

We talked with:

  • Dawn Berry, 4th-grade teacher
Teachers' Lounge Interview - North Grove Elementary Part 4

  • Tifanny Ryan, 2nd-grade teacher
  • Whitney Wheeler, 3rd-grade teacher
Teachers' Lounge Interview - North Grove Elementary Part 3

  • Denise Ackmann, kindergarten teacher
Teachers' Lounge Interview - North Grove Elementary Part 2

  • Elizabeth Kerlin, technology specialist
Teachers' Lounge Interview - North Grove Elementary Part 1

If you’ve never listened to Teachers’ Lounge before, our show is based on an idea -- we’ve all had teachers in our lives who shaped who we are. And we want to hear about the teachers who inspired you or deserve a spotlight in your community. Every educator we have on this podcast, whether teacher, coach, counselor or professor, is nominated by our listeners.

So, tell us about the person who comes to your mind. Shoot us an email and nominate an educator at teacherslounge@niu.edu and they could be on the podcast! And please subscribe to our Teachers' Lounge newsletter right here where you can stay up to speed on the show and share stories you think we should cover!

Also, Teachers’ Lounge is on the radio! Catch the show as an hour-long radio program every month LIVE on 89-5 FM and streaming at WNIJ.org. We have multiple guests, stories, and exclusive segments. Our next episode airs on Friday, January 27th at 11 a.m. Tune in on the last Friday of the month at the same time for future episodes.


Music: Our show's theme music is from the northern Illinois-based band "Kindoves" and their songs "Popn," "Origins" and "Quiche." You can find more of their music on their Soundcloud page. You can also listen to the episode of WNIJ's own Sessions from Studio A where they were featured.

Teachers! People who know teachers! People with stories about teachers! Send us an email and be part of the show! Also, send us your topic recommendations: teacherslounge@niu.edu

Peter joins WNIJ as a graduate of North Central College. He is a native of Sandwich, Illinois.