Column: School District Comment

Column by Teri Ferworn, Board Chair School District 20

I recently had the privilege of attending a retirement dinner recognizing staff of School District 20 for their many years of excellent service to students. There was oneteacher in particular who made such a positive difference in not only my daughter’s life during those formative years, but in the lives of many students who have beenlucky enough to have her as a teacher in their school.

What a privilege and special opportunity it is when we have great teachers who make such a positive impact on our students’ lives. What makes a teacher great? Whatattributes do they possess that enables them to influence their students to achieve their greatest potential?

Great teachers form strong relationships with their students and show that they care about them as people. Great teachers are warm, accessible, enthusiastic and caring.Teachers with these qualities are known to stay after school and make themselves available to students and parents who need them. They are involved in school-widecommittees and activities, and they demonstrate a commitment to the school and community.

A great teacher is compassionate. They have large hearts that have great empathy for each of their students. They understand that life happens and that the kids theyteach do not control their home lives. Great teachers believe in second chances, but use mistakes to teach life lessons. They offer advice, counseling, and mentoringwhen necessary.

A great teacher inspires their students. They are able to pull the best out of every student they teach. They inspire them to become better students, to maximize theirtime in the classroom, and to look towards the future. A great teacher takes an interest a student has and helps turn it into a passion, making educational connectionsthat will potentially last a lifetime. They understand that each student is different, and they embrace those differences. They teach their students that it is thosedifferences that often make them exceptional.

A great teacher makes learning fun. They can be unpredictable. They jump into character when reading a story, teach lessons with enthusiasm, take advantage ofteachable moments, and provide dynamic, hands-on activities that students will remember. They tell stories to make real life connections. Great teachers incorporatestudent interests into their lessons. They are not afraid to do extraordinary things that motivate their students to learn.

Great teachers are continuous learners. They read the latest materials, attend professional development opportunities and apply the newest research in their classroom.As trends change, they change with them. They grow each year they teach, always improving across multiple areas.

Teaching is one of the most complicated jobs today. It demands broad knowledge of subject matter, curriculum, and standards; enthusiasm, a caring attitude, and a loveof learning; knowledge of discipline and classroom management techniques; and a desire to make a difference in the lives of young people. With all these qualitiesrequired, it’s no wonder that some districts have difficulty attracting great teachers.

We are very honored in School District 20 to have many such talented and nurturing teachers. Of course, these teachers have excellent support teams so they are able tocontinue to provide quality teaching to students. From administrators to custodians, it truly takes an academic village to educate a student.

Thank you to all staff of SD 20, I wish you a very happy summer filled with treasured times with your family and friends. We truly appreciate everything that you do tomake our students successful.