teachers

District 300

Eastview Elementary School in Algonquin was honored as a National Blue Ribbon School.

This is the first time in more than three decades (and the second time ever) a school in Community School District 300 has received the distinction.

The award recognizes either “Exemplary Achievement Gap Closing” or, like Eastview, “Exemplary High Performing” schools.

It’s based on student scores placing in the Top 15 in the state for Math and English.

Jim Zursin is the principal at Eastview.

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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.

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Since returning to DeKalb a decade ago, Maurice McDavid has held many titles. Some call him their teacher, others call him their preacher. To some of his elementary school students, he even goes by his hip-hop moniker, Mr. McDizzle. But above all of that, he's trying to be an advocate in the town he was raised in.

Also on the show, a topic with both international and personal ramifications: cybersecurity.

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A mother and daughter, they both teach kindergarten at the same school. They come from a long line of teachers in their family. And this year, the next generation is putting on her backpack to share those same halls as she goes into kindergarten herself.

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She works with teenagers and young adult students with autism. She also happens to be a comedy writer. And she moonlights on top of that as an indie musician. She says her work has been described as a "girls' night out with Kacey Musgraves and Alison Krauss." On this episode of Teachers' Lounge we talked to Cora Vasseur about how all of that happened, and how her art influences her work with special needs students -- and vice versa.   

Also on the show, a conversation about student debt forgiveness; and two prominent Illinois politicians weigh in on the debt crisis.

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Teachers’ Lounge is a new podcast from WNIJ telling the stories of education in Illinois with the help of stories from Illinois educators. Join reporter Peter Medlin every other Friday (payday!) for a new episode. 

If you are a teacher, you know a teacher who you think should be on the show, or have a story about a teacher who inspired you -- send us an email at teacherslounge@niu.edu to join the conversation. 

Also, feel free to send us your ideas for stories and topics for the show to cover.

 

Photo by Spencer Tritt

 

Jim Vera teaches government at Oswego East High School. He often has his students, mostly sophomores, stand in all four corners of the classroom. The corners are marked "Agree," "Disagree," "Strongly agree" and "Strongly disagree."

 

He starts small. Do we have good sports programs here? They all pick a corner. Then the debate escalates until, eventually, they're discussing topics like if it's okay to burn the American flag. 

 

 

Peter Medlin

Montmorency is a rural K-8 school district of just around 230 kids in Whiteside County. They've had an opening for a special ed teacher for about a month. They've only had three teachers apply so far.

 

"You know, we had the special ed position open for two weeks before I even had an applicant," said Alex Moore, superintendent at Montmorency. He also went to school here; in his words, he grew up about two cornfields away.

 

U.S. Department of Education

Ethnically diverse teachers are underrepresented in school districts across Illinois. Research shows that when a student resembles their teacher, the student makes a unique connection and their school performance improves.

 

 

More than 30,000 Los Angeles teachers are on strike this week.

The biggest issue on the negotiating table has not been teacher salaries, as is common. Instead, LA teachers are worried about class sizes, which can sometimes reach 40 students per class.

 

Meanwhile, teachers in Denver, Colorado, are nearing a work stoppage of their own.

Credit Flickr user / alamosbasement "old school" (CC BY 2.0)

Hundreds of teachers at a large northern Illinois school district remain on strike.

Earlier this week, hundreds of Geneva teachers, community members and even students rallied outside of the high school.

The main sticking point between the union and school board is how much teachers are paid.

That includes how they are paid throughout their career based on education and experience.
 

The union says their new deal would give bigger raises to younger, less experienced educators in an effort to attract new teachers.

Victoria Lunacek

The DeKalb Regional Office of Education hosted its first Educator Spirit Day on Wednesday. It's intended to help teachers de-stress before their first day back to school. Regional Superintendent Amanda Christensen says the goal is to give educators tools to help manage their health.

"We know that we need educators to be focused on their own well being also in order to help their students focus on their well being," Christensen said.

Susan Bivens is a special education teacher at Cortland Elementary. She says it was a great way to get ready and prepare for her students.

Flickr user / alamosbasement "old school" (CC BY 2.0)

The Illinois House has sent the governor a measure raising public school teacher salaries to a minimum of $40,000 a year.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

The Rockford Public School District is hosting a teacher job fair for those looking to move forward in their careers in sculpting young minds.

Some specific areas of teaching will be special targets, but Mercedes Brain – the Director of Talent Acquisition for Rockford Public Schools – says that shouldn’t discourage anyone from attending the fair.

A program designed to get more minority teachers into Illinois classrooms is turning directly to the public for support. 

"IMG_4491" by Flickr User alkruse24 / (CC X 2.0)

A survey of Illinois public school districts finds administrators are scrambling to find substitute teachers for as many as 600 classrooms a day.

The review of 400 districts that the Illinois Association of Regional Superintendents of Schools released Tuesday reveals that teachers call in absences more than 16,000 times per week. Administrators have trouble finding enough people to fill in for nearly 20 percent of them.

Jeff Vose is association president. The regional superintendent for Sangamon and Menard counties says stricter licensing requirements are to blame.

Flickr user / alamosbasement "old school" (CC BY 2.0)

A new law designed to relieve the statewide shortage of teachers and substitute teachers was signed by Governor Bruce Rauner today.

State Senator Dave Luechtefeld, a Republican, taught history and government at Okawville High School for more than 30 years, so it’s hard to argue with him about what it takes to be an educator.

That’s probably why the bill he sponsored passed unanimously in both chambers of the Illinois legislature. It lowers the fee for a substitute teaching license, and smooths the way for retired teachers to work as subs.

Rockford Public Schools

Illinois data shows almost one in four public school teachers in the state miss 10-plus days of the school year.

The Chicago Tribune reports the annual Illinois Report Card, a compilation of data that paints a broad picture of schools, shows that 23.5 percent of public school teachers are absent more than 10 days in the school year.

The teacher absence rates ranged widely at some 3,600 public schools, with nearly 1,600 schools, mostly in the Chicago area, faring worse than the state average.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

The role of a school superintendent has changed a lot recently: four local district leaders proved that Thursday night during the Northern Illinois University Education Department’s Superintendents Summit.

TRS

A labor union is demanding the resignation of the head of Illinois' teacher pension system. The union doesn't like what he's been saying about the future of teachers' retirement benefits. Richard Ingram says in order to solve the long-term funding problems of the Teachers' Retirement System, the state has to consider reducing automatic cost-of-living increases for retirees.