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Question of the day

Friday, May 7, 2021

* From the Illinois State Board of Education yesterday…

Hi Rich,

This week is Teacher Appreciation Week. Throughout the pandemic, teachers have gone above and beyond to care for our students and our communities. ISBE launched the Thank a Teacher Challenge to encourage people to tell a short story about their favorite teachers, and then tag someone else to do the same. Dr. Ayala, Gov. Pritzker, Lt. Gov. Stratton, Treasurer Frerichs, and President Harmon all posted short videos as part of the challenge. Comptroller Mendoza and Leader McConchie have been “tagged” as well.

Would you consider asking your readers to share a story about who their favorite teacher is as your question of the day tomorrow to close out Teacher Appreciation Week?

Thank you for your consideration.


* The Question: You heard her. Have at it, but please make sure to explain your answer. Thanks.

…Adding… Leader Jim Durkin’s video is here.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Rich Miller - Friday, May 7, 21 @ 2:59 am:

    I nominate Mr. Stone from Hanover High School. Here’s why:

  2. - Guy Probably - Friday, May 7, 21 @ 6:07 am:

    Mr. Dice is the reason I teach today. He created an environment that pushed and challenged kids, and because of it, I was able to thrive. He also was a Sox fan, but everyone has their flaws.

  3. - Proud Papa Bear - Friday, May 7, 21 @ 6:36 am:

    I was a high school student in the bottom quarter of my class and no realistic idea of what to do with my life when I volunteered to be in a PE class with students with disabilities.
    That year we had a student teacher, Mr. Podraza, who took an interest in me. He explained how I seemed to have a way with the kids and he encouraged me to look into special education. No other teacher had taken me aside like that before and frankly I didn’t see myself as teacher material then.
    29 years later, I’m doing exactly what Mr. Podraza envisioned me doing. (And yes, I have since tracked him down and thanked him).

  4. - Give Me A Break - Friday, May 7, 21 @ 8:17 am:

    Mr. Fenton Robinson and Mr. Leonard Semen from Lanphier HS in the 70s. Both taught government and history in way that was easy to understand and value. They are the reason I’ve spent a career in the political/lobbying field. Great teachers both of them.

  5. - OneMan - Friday, May 7, 21 @ 8:32 am:

    That’s a tough one, but I would say Mrs Kahn, my 5th grade teacher.

    She would let us stay in the classroom after lunch and had a set of the Encylopedia Britannica and I think I ended up going through the entire thing over the course of a school year.

    She would talk to us like we were adults (I still remember her talking about how a casino would be bad for Chicago and this was like the late ’70s). Her son-in-law was Robert Healey (sp?) who I think may have been CTU president at the time (He was a labor leader in a couple of different entities).

    She would have us stand whenever an adult entered the room, which struck me as old-fashioned at the time, now seems like a great idea.

    When I was in HS she retired (She had to be in her late 60s at least by then) and was called to offer a thought about her for her retirement and I said. “She was my Professor Kingsfield”.

  6. - Mugs - Friday, May 7, 21 @ 8:34 am:

    In 1970 I was a senior at Joliet Catholic and mad at the world. Richard Nixon’s attempt to pack the Supreme Court with southern conservatives came up one day in the American Government class taught by the late Fr. Kellen Ryan. I must have displayed interest, for after school I got a call at home from Fr. Kellen telling me the Senate had rejected the nomination of Harold Carswell.

    Someone had listened to me.

  7. - Chambanalyst - Friday, May 7, 21 @ 8:39 am:

    Wasn’t my teacher personally, but I have to nominate Jason Seaman. I went to high school and played sports with him. I will never forget reading the news the day I saw he was shot three times while thwarting a school shooting. Nobody was killed that day thanks to his actions. I’ve had great teachers that have impacted my life over the years but nobody saved my life like he did for an entire classroom.

  8. - 21st State - Friday, May 7, 21 @ 8:48 am:

    I just recounted this memory to my daughter’s 5th grade class as I was a guest to talk about government and my time working as a newly-minted attorney on House staff back in the 91st GA: my own 5th grade teacher Mrs. Sallas brought in the cleaned-out digestive system of a lamb for our Science unit — I was fascinated! Her influence helped set my life’s direction towards health care and helping others in need… law school + time on staff trained me as an advocate, to have me for these past years dedicated to serving those who served in the VA hospital system… it all traces back to 5th grade and Mrs. Sallas!

  9. - Birds on the Bat - Friday, May 7, 21 @ 8:50 am:

    @ Give Me A Break

    I believe it was Barron Robinson. Regardless, both were indeed outstanding teachers of history and government. Today’s society could learn a lot from them.

  10. - Larry Bowa Jr. - Friday, May 7, 21 @ 9:08 am:

    As the spouse of a teacher all this “thanks teachers!” noise rings incredibly hollow to me right now. Over the last year I watched a woman who busted her ass to get multiple master’s degrees so she could help other people’s kids get called a layabout and thief for not wanting to risk her and her family’s existence so that the other suburban mommies and daddies could have a more cozy work from home setup.

    Don’t know why anyone with any options in life would sign up for this thankless profession going forward. Americans have shown they think teachers are babysitters whose labor they’re entitled to and whose safety they are allowed to disregard.

  11. - Diogenes in DuPage - Friday, May 7, 21 @ 9:13 am:

    Mrs. Adele Hegener and Mr. Larry Kight of Beardstown HS showed me that teaching could be fun, interesting, and empowering. They inspired me to a career in education with the aim of replicating their impact.

  12. - Because I said so.... - Friday, May 7, 21 @ 9:17 am:

    My 6th grade teacher, Mr. Higgins had the greatest probably influence on me. He arranged for his class to get a newspaper once a week to read (this was a long time ago) and we got to read any section we wanted. Then we would talk about it. He nurtured open discussion and all points of view on current topics, politics and social studies. In his class I found what I loved to study and my interest in politics and government.

    Years later I was working in a state-wide campaign office. Mr. Higgins walked in to get some signs and literature for his classroom. I told him I was doing the work I loved because of the influence he provided.

  13. - Oldtimer - Friday, May 7, 21 @ 9:56 am:

    When you can tell that teachers love what they do, that excitement can be a powerful motivator. Thanks to three of my high school teachers: Mr. Welch who taught History and Government, Mrs. Theobald who taught English, and Mr. Bauman who taught History and Geography.

  14. - Dysfunction Junction - Friday, May 7, 21 @ 10:07 am:

    Mr. Hollister in 8th grade Earth Science, Algonquin Middle School. The first teacher to talk with us as adults and expect us to behave accordingly. Laid out a well-structured argument for why the earth was shaped as a disk and forced us to present compelling arguments to the contrary. Kept in touch with him for decades afterwards, and he was even more fun interacting with as an adult than as a student.

  15. - Still Waiting - Friday, May 7, 21 @ 10:18 am:

    Mr. Wilhelm, my junior high and high school history teacher, government teacher, guidance counselor, and lunch supervisor, is responsible for my being where I am today. (How on earth he was able to do all those jobs at once is beyond me.) He was an amazing teacher. He expected a lot out of us, but treated us like adults, and the discussions he led were so interesting the class would fly by. But even more important than that, he cared deeply about his students and showed it every day in everything he did. I will never forget the kindness he showed me when everyone else had written me off. He is my hero and role model. I sure hope he is enjoying a well-deserved retirement and gets to resume his world travels soon.

  16. - @misterjayem - Friday, May 7, 21 @ 10:40 am:

    MrsJM, her mother, her grandmother, her aunt, her cousin, her sister-in-law and her mother-in-law all are or were teachers and I think each and every one of them is pretty darn swell.

    – MrJM

  17. - Candy Dogood - Friday, May 7, 21 @ 10:59 am:

    I am the product of several great and influential teachers and can sincerely identify how specific teachers and professors influenced my thinking. I haven’t been able to thank all of them and for many of them I regret that I wasn’t a better student.

  18. - Huh? - Friday, May 7, 21 @ 11:04 am:

    Marshall Silver, 1980’s engineering college professor who taught us how to read and write.

  19. - @misterjayem - Friday, May 7, 21 @ 11:05 am:

    With regard to teachers that I had as a student, I gotta go with Mrs Rogers.

    In addition to teaching the second and third grade classes, she taught us music from kindergarten through sixth grade. She was also the adult advisor for our 4-H club.

    She exhibited near infinite levels of patience and understanding. (I don’t remember what she said when I told her our learning multiplication tables was pointless because we’d all be killed in a nuclear war before we graduated, but she talked me into learning them. Except the 7s. I still can’t remember the damn 7s.)

    And when she did finally crack and knock me on the head with a book, everyone but she knew that I more than had it coming. (When I went home that night, I told my parents to expect a call from Mrs Rogers. I told them what had happened and asked them to please, please ask her to stop apologizing to me. She called and they did.)

    She did more for more kids in that town than anyone else I can think of. When she passed away much too young, they renamed their annual town festival after her. (My dad says, “They should have done it years earlier — but she’d have never stood for it.”)

    I was blessed with several great teachers, but even among the best of them, Mrs Rogers stands out.

    – MrJM

  20. - dbk - Friday, May 7, 21 @ 11:18 am:

    My 50th high school reunion is upcoming in October, and oddly enough, our class president wrote me yesterday and asked if I would be willing to gather testimonials from classmates re: how our experiences in high school affected us/shaped us.

    Richwoods (Peoria) had a pretty solid staff in the late sixties, with a lot of faculty (2500 students, so …) and a wide array of course offerings. A weak teacher was the exception; competent and excellent teachers were the rule.

    My choice - among many, really - would have to be Jerry Driscoll, who had taught me Civics in 8th grade. He moved to high school teaching when we entered Richwoods, so I had him again for U.S. Government as a senior. We read the Constitution, closely. Jerry’s method was sort of semi-Socratic and it really solidified an already-nascent interest in politics and public policy. He passed away a number of years ago, and his obituary noted that he was one of the city’s most highly-regarded civics/government teachers, and that he himself had been active in civic affairs after retirement.

    I think the fact that although I have lived abroad for 40+ years (with frequent trips back to Illinois), I’m one of this blog’s most faithful readers - is a testament to Jerry Driscoll having taught me Civics (which included Illinois/Peoria history) and Government.

  21. - MiddleAgedDog - Friday, May 7, 21 @ 11:34 am:

    Ms. Hardy taught literature at Rochester, IL in the 1980’s. When all the other teachers had given up on me, she found books outside of our school library that interested me. I romped through Isaac Asimov and Ray Bradbury, then moved on to the really out there sci-fi. As long as I brought a book back, I got another one, no questions asked. I never said it, but thanks, Ms. Hardy. I did eventually get out of my funk, go to school as an adult, earned a degree in the sciences, and have not stopped reading.

  22. - RIJ - Friday, May 7, 21 @ 12:01 pm:

    Ms. Christine McQuiston, who taught Social Sciences and Econimics at Flora High School for her entire career. The way she taught her classes inspired me (mostly to leave Flora). She was very offended by the phrase “scum bucket,” and quietly pulled aside me and two friends to explain the phrase and why it’s so gross, and to please refrain from using it in her presence. I don’t think I’ve ever used that term in the 40 years since. When I looked her up to check the spelling of her name, I found that she died a few years ago at 67. Many thanks to Miss McQuiston. Note: While refreshing my memory, I found a picture of the “All-80s” Flora classes reunion from July 2020 - about 60 people all smushed together with nary a single mask. So Eastern Bloc. Even my conservative siblings didn’t go, because, well, good judgement.

  23. - RIJ - Friday, May 7, 21 @ 12:29 pm:

    Why didn’t spell check catch that? Economics. Sheesh.

  24. - Give Me A Break - Friday, May 7, 21 @ 12:30 pm:

    Birds you are correct. Great getting old and trying to remember names. It was the 70s, at least I got that part right. LOL

  25. - Dotnonymous - Friday, May 7, 21 @ 12:38 pm:

    I wish I had a positive teacher story to tell…but I don’t…which may say more about me than my teachers…I can’t rightly say.

    I thank my Mom…who taught me to love books…which saved my life.

  26. - halfway retired - Friday, May 7, 21 @ 1:58 pm:

    Shout out to Kevin Pobst. He later became a great HS principal in the western burbs, but in my day he was just a history teacher whose comments and feedback on my papers had more words than I wrote to begin with. His enthusiasm raised the bar for me and everyone else in the class. As far as I could tell, he also went to EVERY school game and concert

  27. - DuPage - Friday, May 7, 21 @ 2:34 pm:

    @- Larry Bowa Jr. - Friday, May 7, 21 @ 9:08 am:

    ===As the spouse of a teacher all this “thanks teachers!” noise rings incredibly hollow to me right now. Over the last year I watched a woman who busted her ass to get multiple master’s degrees so she could help other people’s kids get called a layabout and thief for not wanting to risk her and her family’s existence so that the other suburban mommies and daddies could have a more cozy work from home setup.

    Don’t know why anyone with any options in life would sign up for this thankless profession going forward. Americans have shown they think teachers are babysitters whose labor they’re entitled to and whose safety they are allowed to disregard.===

    I agree. Also Tier2 pensions and the SB7 which was misused by administrators to improperly lay off higher paid, long term, excellent teachers, and replace them with beginning teachers at a lower salary. Prospective teachers have good reason to go into other lines of work, especially in Illinois.

  28. - Froganon - Friday, May 7, 21 @ 2:45 pm:

    Gary Swick from Dundee Crown HS, now at the U of I in Dekalb is my nominee. My kids didn’t have him but I’ve seen a steady stream of DCHS grads whom he inspired. He was and still is an amazing teacher.

  29. - CU InfoPro - Friday, May 7, 21 @ 4:00 pm:

    I have several. Here are a few.

    Mr. Henry was my first grade teacher at Centennial Laboratory School in Decatur. I learned to read in his class and he helped to grow and nurture that.

    Mr. Bauers at Champaign Central High School and Dr. Tibbetts at the University of Illinois helped me become a better writer.

    Professor Barry Riccio at the University of Illinois showed me how to research and think deeply about history. The final paper that I wrote for his class is a piece of research and writing that I’m still proud of over 30 years later.

    Dr. Linda Smith in the U of I’s Graduate School of Library and Information Science taught me how to think like a professional science researcher. I earned my MS in 1993 and I still use the skills I learned from her every day.

    Last but not least, my dad who was a working journalist and then a journalism professor at the U of I, taught me how to stand up for what I believe in, be curious, root for the underdog, and get out of my comfort zone. He also taught me that there’s nothing more entertaining than Illinois politics and nothing more important that being an engaged citizen. I miss him every day.

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