© 2024 WNIJ and WNIU
Northern Public Radio
801 N 1st St.
DeKalb, IL 60115
Northern Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

The road to regionals & power of paraprofessionals | Teachers' Lounge Radio Show

Teachers' Lounge Radio Show
Spencer Tritt
Teachers' Lounge Radio Show

Our podcast Teachers’ Lounge is on the radio! We’ve got all the interviews with Illinois teachers and education stories you love -- along with exclusive segments -- in a monthly, hour-long show on WNIJ.

One of our favorite segments here on Teachers' Lounge is called “Classroom Correspondent.” Erik Czerwin is an English teacher at Guilford High School in Rockford and, as our classroom correspondent, he meets with us every single month to check in on how the school year is going for him and his students.

We also have student correspondents here on Teachers’ Lounge. Long-time listeners may remember that last spring, we followed the inaugural season of the DeKalb High School esports team.

This winter, the second season of Student Correspondent is following DeKalb High School’s Forensics team. You might be wondering: forensics? There’s competitive high school crime scene investigation? NO! Tune in to learn more.

On this episode, we’re showcasing our first paraprofessional on the program – Dana Gilbreath!

If you don’t work in education or it’s been a while since you’ve been in school, you might be thinking: what is a paraprofessional? Well, you might know them as a teacher’s aid or assistant.

They are educators, they are support staff who work with students in general education classrooms, special education, everywhere in schools.

Dana is a paraprofessional at the Valley View Communiy School District in Romeoville, Illinois. She’s been a paraprofessional for decades, and she’s recently started a journey to become a classroom teacher.

One of the reasons is that Dana is African-American and she’s started to realize that her students were getting more and more diverse, but the teaching staff was not.

“So, I thought it was time for me to step up and play a bigger part in the change for our students,” she said.

We talk with Dana about why she loves to be a paraprofessional and why she’s decided to make this shift, 30+ years into her education career.

We’re also revisiting a classic episode of Teachers’ Lounge — it's our 2022 conversation with Dr. Kathleen “Kadi” Billman. This is a conversation unlike we’ve ever had before or since. We dive into some heavy, emotional topics. Until her retirement during the pandemic, Dr. Billman was a professor of pastoral ministry, pastoral theology and director of the Master of Divinity program at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago. Billman also taught a class called “Caring for the dying and bereaved."

“The students did a lot of things. They were asked to write their own eulogy. They were asked to write a letter to loved ones, of what they would most want their closest loved ones to know," she said.

We had such a good conversation, but the themes are really weighty. Again, we talk about death, loss, and grief, so if that’s not something you want to hear about, that’s totally fine, but just a content warning.

If you’ve never listened 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. Every educator we have on Teachers’ Lounge, 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 show!

Don’t worry – the podcast isn’t going anywhere. You can still catch episodes every other Friday on WNIJ.org or wherever you get podcasts.


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