teachers

Peter Medlin

On a new episode of Teachers’ Lounge: Marcel Walker! He’s a comic book artist and art teacher extraordinaire. Marcel helped create the educational comic series “CHUTZ-POW! Superheroes of the Holocaust” with the Holocaust Center of Pittsburgh and works with “ToonSeum" -- a museum of comics and cartoons.

Spencer Tritt

Following the consolidated elections earlier this month, three new members will soon take seats on the DeKalb School Board.

On the campaign trail, voters often asked Ari Owens how she was going to leverage her connections with Northern Illinois University on the school board. She’s the assistant director at NIU’s Gender & Sexuality Resource Center.

Owens said she hopes she can help students in the district take advantage of the counseling and mentorship programs they offer.

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.

Spencer Tritt

Today felt like the first day of school, even though Hinckley-Big Rock is eight months into the school year. That’s according to Jessica Sonntag, the director of student services there.

It’s the first day they’ve had all of their students in school all day. But, there are 20 students who have been in-person all day since last August: those who receive special ed accommodations for 70% or more of their school day.

Lissette Jacobson & Maurice McDavid

On a new episode of Teachers' Lounge, Lissette Jacobson and Maurice McDavid! They’re elementary school principals in West Chicago and the hosts of the podcast “Black, Brown & Bilingüe”! They talked to Peter about the mission of their show – uniting the Black and Brown communities with conversations & education.

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!

Spencer Tritt

Morelia Garcia was helping an afterschool program at her high school when the principal walked by. He started asking her the sorts of questions everyone approaching graduation gets: “What are your plans for college? You want to be a teacher, right? Well, how about here?”

They both laughed and Garcia countered with the sort of question everyone approaching graduation wants answered: “Can you actually help me pay for school?”

Golden Apple

In special ed, teachers usually work with fewer students, and the relationships they build -- not only with kids but also their parents -- can become very close. The school year has been especially challenging with COVID-19 restrictions, but Maddi Bodine has kept forging those bonds -- even online or through plexiglass. She’s a pre-K special ed teacher at Kingston Elementary.

Spectrum School

On a new episode of Teachers' Lounge: Mary Beth Cunat! She’s the principal at Spectrum Progressive School in Rockford. Talking to Mary Beth is like taking a free master’s degree class in education. We went in-depth about what it means to be a “progressive school,” her lengthy career in education including her time at Chicago Public Schools, teaching working with her family at Spectrum as well as her love of animals (specifically we both love otters and talk about that for a while. Don’t miss it!)

Spencer Tritt

The Biden Administration wants to reopen all schools within his first 100 days in office, but around half of all Illinois students are still learning remotely. DeKalb Public Schools is transitioning students to a partially in-person hybrid schedule for the first time since the pandemic began.

On a new episode of Teachers' Lounge: Shelly Tranchita! She’s a physical education teacher at Sycamore High School. We talked about how physical health is a vehicle for mental health, and how she focuses on mind and body wellness in her classes. With the trauma her students have endured during the pandemic, she’s started teaching about meditation along with the physical fitness. We also talk about what a virtual or socially-distant P.E. class even looks like. Hint: lots of masks and open windows for air circulation, even during the winter!

Spencer Tritt

Before the pandemic, Shelly Tranchita would walk around her packed, sweaty P.E. class shouting affirmations and helping students with their yoga poses. Now, for the first time during COVID-19, Sycamore High School is back in-person on a hybrid schedule. Her class looks a lot different now.

“The temperature today was 6 [degrees] and I have fans on in the indoor gyms that I'm in that don't have outside circulation. I wear two masks. I wear a microphone all day long so I can project my voice without yelling and spreading more aerosols, more germs,” she said.

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

Illinois K-12 teachers will soon get their first shot of the COVID-19 vaccine. They’re in Phase1B of the state’s vaccine rollout, which starts on Monday.

Griff Powell is one of DeKalb Public Schools’ interim superintendents. He said they’ve been informed that teachers will start getting their first dose of the vaccine soon.

On January 6, Morris Elementary School Principal Dave Raffel and his family stayed glued to the news until late at night as a mob of pro-Trump extremists stormed the U.S. Capitol Building.

He looked over at his son, an 8th grader, processing the images and realized he was going to have to say something to his other kids: the 1,200 at his school.

Every day, Raffel films his morning announcements and says the Pledge of Allegiance for his students, who are still learning remotely due to COVID-19.

Taylor Leach

This Week: Another edition of Student Teachers’ Lounge! Host Peter Medlin talked to Taylor Leach, who has experienced the pandemic as both a student and as a teacher. She just graduated with a master’s degree from Northern Illinois University and finished up student teaching at Kingston Elementary School in Genoa, Illinois.

Spencer Tritt

During the pandemic, schools are seeing a significant teacher shortage, especially a lack of substitutes. They typically see a surge of subs and new teachers in January as winter graduates enter the job market.

But in 2021, it’s unclear if that boost will come for Illinois schools suffering staff shortages due to COVID-19.

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.

Illinois State Board of Education

The Illinois State Board of Education released an interactive report showing how teacher preparation programs across the state are performing.

The Illinois Educator Preparation Profile allows employers and prospective education students to scour data about college programs to see how well they recruit students of color, what percentage of graduates get placed in teaching positions and a host of other metrics.

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.

Holocaust Center of Pittsburgh -- photograph by Melanie Wieland

On a new episode of Teachers' Lounge: Lynne Ravas. She’s a recently retired English teacher who taught across the country. Lynne also has family -- including her father -- who survived the Holocaust. For decades, Lynne has worked with organizations to educate people of all ages and pass down the stories of survivors, especially as survivors themselves have passed away.

Spencer Tritt

Illinois has had a shortage of teachers for years now, and that extends to substitutes. But, during the pandemic, that pool of subs has dwindled even further. That made it challenging for in-person schools to have socially-distanced classrooms staffed at all.

Chris Mehochko is the regional superintendent for Kendall and Grundy counties. Regional education offices serve as the hub for subs, helping them with licensing and background checks.

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.

Goodly Creatures, LLC

This week’s episode is with Katrina Syrris. She leads a double life. By day, Katrina is a high school theater teacher at St. Edward Central Catholic. By night and weekends, she owns and operates Goodly Creatures -- her theater production company.

She’s a producer, a director, a playwright -- the list goes on and on. 

Host Peter Medlin talked to Katrina about being an artist during the pandemic. Goodly Creatures lost their studio space during COVID so she’s had to pivot online both for her theater company and her high school classes.

SD209

Students in the Proviso School District are still learning remotely as COVID-19 case rates go up across Illinois. But their teachers are now working inside the district’s school buildings, despite safety concerns and the Teachers’ Union filing of an Unfair Labor Practice & Grievance against the district.

 

Almost 300 Proviso teachers have been back for a week now. Maggie Riley -- she’s the president of the Proviso Teachers’ Union -- said the conditions are exactly what they were worried about. 

 

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.

Peter Medlin

On a new episode of Teachers’ Lounge, we have Jason Cavanaugh. He’s a high school math teacher and baseball coach in Sycamore.

They’re learning remotely. So, Jason is going into his empty, retrofitted math class to teach kids who are at home. Obviously, he’s never done this before, the students haven’t either. And, as you can imagine, the technology is not always flawless.

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!

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