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Some of our favorite conversations of 2023 | Teachers' Lounge Podcast

A collage of some of the wonderful educators we've featured on Teachers' Lounge this year.
A collage of some of the wonderful educators we've featured on Teachers' Lounge this year.

In the spirit of “Best of the Year” season, we’re revisiting some of our favorite Teachers’ Lounge conversations of 2023.

It’s been an amazing year for Teachers’ Lounge, honestly. We started the year with a Teachers’ Lounge recorded in a real teachers’ lounge talking with elementary school teachers in Sycamore. We got the chance to record an episode in front of a live audience at Beloit College. We also hosted an education panel conversation at the Illinois News Broadcasters Association’s spring convention down in Springfield, Illinois.

We continued our Classroom Correspondent series on the Teachers’ Lounge Radio Show where we show “A Year In The Life of a Teacher” and we introduced our Student Correspondent segment. We followed the students on the DeKalb High School esports team in the spring and we’re highlighting the DeKalb High School Forensics team right now!

Teachers’ Lounge even won an award from the Illinois News Broadcasters Association this year!

And, of course, we had so many other amazing conversations with educators nominated BY YOU. Again, we very literally could not do this show without you. Thank you to everyone that has taken the time to listen to the podcast or to our Teachers’ Lounge Radio Show and maybe even submitted a teacher in your life for the program (again, you can do that at teacherslounge@niu.edu.) Sincerely, thank you for making another year of this show possible.

But right now, we’re going back to showcase a few great conversations from 2023. They’re teachers from very different backgrounds, who teach very different subjects -- and all had a lot of excellent insight to share. We’re bringing you four conversations: two long and two shorter ones. Think of it as a holiday sampler!

First up, we listen back to my conversation with Jill Kelly. She’s a hearing itinerant teacher -- a special ed teacher who teaches deaf and hard of hearing kids at the Huntley Community School District.

She’s also been a sign language teacher and interpreter for decades -- and she’s interpreted everything from political speeches, dog obedience, swim meets and karate classes.

We talked about how she learned sign language in the first place, and what a hearing itinerant teacher actually does -- from technology to self-advocacy.

We spoke with Eugene Galingacion. He is a special education teacher at Jones-Farrar, an International Baccalaureate World School in Freeport, Illinois!

We talked with Eugene about his journey from growing up in poverty in the Philippines, the dedication it took to get his degree, all the way to teaching special education in the United States. We get into what it means to teach at an International Baccalaureate World School, how his own childhood experiences and trauma help him advocate for his students now, and so much more.

We’re returning to my recent chat with Mira Church about her experience overseas, teacher burnout, knowing your worth as a teacher, and the weight of representation in the classroom.

Finally, we’re bringing you our conversation with Tom Vician! He’s a ceramics instructor at McHenry County College. I made the trip up to his classroom and studio where he gave me a tour featuring sandblasters, glazes, pots, kilns, and 3D printers!

We talked about his life as an artist and his journey as an educator.

Again, thank you to everyone who listened or interacted with Teachers’ Lounge in any way during the past year. And, of course, here’s to all of the teachers, coaches, professors, parents, & students that make education special.


Peter Medlin

Teachers’ Lounge Host & WNIJ Education Reporter

Teachers' Lounge Podcast
Peter Medlin
Teachers' Lounge Podcast


Educators in this episode:

Jill Kelly

Eugene Calingacion

Mira Church

Tom Vician

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.