Educators

On a new Teachers’ Lounge, Dr. Laurie Cooper Stoll: sociology professor at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. She’s also an author who studies social inequalities, gendered violence and fat studies -- which is primarily what we talked about on this episode. She also has a website and blog she runs with a colleague, Dr. Darci Thoune, called “Two Fat Professors” where they fight fatphobia with education, community building and, as they say, a LOT of sass.

On a new Teachers’ Lounge, we have an entire family of teachers --the Goekes! Karl, Stacy and Rachel join Peter to talk about their experiences as educators going through the pandemic. We talked about how in-person school “normalcy” isn’t really that normal at all.

 

They’re all teachers at different schools at different grade levels -- so we get a look behind the curtain at every level of education! Also, Karl even taught Rachel’s Spanish class in high school. He had other siblings and cousins too!

On a new episode of Teachers' Lounge: Exploring the top education issues to watch in 2021 with Rockford teacher Erik Czerwin.

Teachers’ Lounge host Peter Medlin and Erik dive into topics like:

Spencer Tritt

DeKalb Public Schools has hired a new superintendent. Her name is Minerva Garcia-Sanchez. She’s currently the Pilsen, Marshall Square and Little Village chief of schools in Chicago. WNIJ education reporter Peter Medlin talked to her about her expectations and goals as she starts at a new school district during the pandemic.

On a special Christmas Day edition of Teachers’ Lounge: Rod Genandt. He’s been teaching 4th grade at Forreston Grade School for over 40 years in his hometown of Forreston, Illinois. He’s taught kids, he’s taught the kids of those kids and maybe even the kids of those kids before all is said and done.

He talked to host Peter Medlin about that, about the lack of men teaching grade school, how to create a safe and comfortable classroom for kids in a time it’s so hard to feel safe and comfortable.

Spencer Tritt

“Are you there?” Jen Cotovsky types into the Google Meet chatbox. Still no response. Then, finally, a new message pops up from the student on her caseload. Cotovsky is a social worker for DeKalb High School.

The student has their camera and microphone off, so the chatbox is the only way to talk right now. Those are the most challenging meetings she has with students. At this point, she’s used to talking to high schoolers with their camera off.

Spencer Tritt

Illinois is in the middle of a severe teacher shortage, which also extends to substitute teachers. That problem has gotten much worse during the pandemic.

Amanda Christensen is the DeKalb County Regional Superintendent. Her office is the hub for subs, helping with background checks and licenses.

“I think that there's a greater drain on the system, and we certainly are not keeping up with the need,” she said.

Judith Meyer

Our guest this episode is Judith Meyer, she’s an artist -- a painter, to be exact -- and art professor at Rock Valley College.

Judith talked to host Peter Medlin about how to virtually teach about art, the unexpected places around the world her art has gone to, what she's been working on during the pandemic, creativity as a spiritual exercise and so much more.

On a new Teachers’ Lounge episode we have Deb Baird. She has ran her own at-home daycare business since 1984.

She talked to host Peter Medlin about her 36 years raising hundreds of kids in her own home. They went into how much it’s changed as she’s gotten older, her focus on nature -- especially monarch butterflies -- and so much more.

Whether it’s the global pandemic or social unrest, nearly everyone has experienced some trauma in 2020.

It’s hard to grasp the long-term mental health implications of COVID-19. But many Americans have already seen their mental health suffer during the pandemic.

On a new Teachers’ Lounge episode we have Molly Lilja, principal at Manchester Elementary School in Poplar Grove.

She talked to host Peter Medlin about everything from the challenges of preparing for the school year during COVID, like putting up thousands of dollars’ worth of plexiglass dividers or having some students eat lunch in the library. They also chat about teaching online, what that was like in the spring and how the fall could be different.

Near the end, they also touch on Molly’s passion for playing a certain extreme sport!

Peter Medlin

Rockford Public Schools just became the latest district to release a plan for reopening.

No matter the grade level, parents can choose full-time remote learning.

But in-person will look different depending on a student’s age.

The elementary school option will be all day, five days a week.

Heidi Dettman is the executive director of academics.

“The biggest reason is because of how critical their time with their teachers is at this developmental stage,” said Dettman.

Spencer Tritt

The beginning of the school year is always hectic. That’s according to Suzy Changnon. She’s been a paraprofessional in the DeKalb School District for around 15 years.

If you’re not sure who paraprofessionals are, you might know them better as instructional assistants or aids.

“There's a lot of scrambling," as Changnon characterized the job. "Students have needs that need to be met. And sometimes a lot of us are doing double duty trying to cover one schedule and then breaking away mid-class to go help another student.”

Peter Medlin

This week on Teachers’ Lounge, we take a look at the science behind brewing with DeKalb High School biology teacher, Steve Byers. He’s also the owner and brewmaster behind the new Byers Brewing Company in downtown DeKalb. Byers talked with Peter about how he got started brewing in college trying to recreate his favorite discontinued beers. They also discuss how he manages running a small business, being a full-time teacher, oh, and he has a new baby!

Logo design by Spencer Tritt

Rich Egger, news director at Tri States Public Radio in Macomb, joins us for a special edition episode of Teachers’ Lounge. Public radio stations across the state collaborated on our “Enrollment Exodus” series chronicling enrollment challenges facing Illinois colleges and universities, especially since the 2015-2017 state budget impasse.