Because they set such a priority on education, my parents stretched financially to move to Scarsdale, New York so my brother and I could benefit from their famous school system. I was far too social a creature to take full advantage of their sacrifice, but several teachers there shaped me as a learner and teacher. Reading to my first-grade teacher's class during my sixth-grade recess period seduced me into teaching. Challenging and dedicated teachers like Nat Sloan, for whom I had to read Ruth Benedict's Patterns of Culture
in seventh grade, and Garnet Almes, who put me through my paces in Algebra, showed me the power of good teaching to transform learning. Volunteering for Project Head Start in 1964, its first summer, clinched the deal.
In 1965 I chose the University of Wisconsin campus for its wide-ranging diversity of both students and programs. Madison was all that and more. I met my future husband my first week on campus, and I discovered the joy of teaching and learning literature through the privilege of participating in a three-year long honors seminar of 12 students with a demanding and compelling professor. Anti-war and feminist and black studies protests opened my eyes and my heart.
I taught in four different schools in three different states before finding my final home for my last 24 years. At Glenbard West High School, my administrators encouraged me to develop new programs, and I loved most of my time there. Students and colleagues and parents all were my teachers. I am still in touch with a number of those students today.
When computers first came to the schools, I shared my vision of how best to teach writing with computers, embedding each of the computer skills into the appropriate stage of the writing process and publishing two textbooks. Problem-Based Learning transformed my teaching, leading to a far more student-centered classroom. I worked to provide real audiences, including co-founding a student performance of student writing called Page to Stage and sponsoring Byzantium,
our fine arts magazine. A passionate varsity soccer announcer, I also sponsored a number of other activities and founded WIMS [Women in Math and Science] to connect female students with female scientists from Fermilab, as well as Tech Squad, where my student volunteers helped less digitally literate staff learn to use technologies. I spoke often at conferences, and I co-founded our Gay-Straight Alliances when students taught me what they needed.
When I retired from public school teaching, I continued to work with the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy, where I had taught for the Harris Institute for Problem-Based Learning and the Summer Sleuths program. Through IMSA I worked in both iterations of the Illinois Innovation Talent Project, using PBL much the way I had in my classroom, working with schools who had companies and government agencies as clients. Continuing my safe schools work, I became Co-chair of GLSEN [Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network] and then co-founded the Illinois Safe Schools Alliance. I also wrote professional development materials for a company designed to improve the hiring and onboarding of new teachers. Now I am finally finishing my teaching memoir, telling the stories of what I learned from students and others
If I had had more lives to live, I would have enjoyed several other careers as well: restauranteur, fashion designer, writer, artist, kayaking guide, etc. One of the great joys of retirement is the chance to enjoy those avocations: my garments are often on a wearable art show runway, and my husband and I sell our art glass to galleries and individuals. Having kayaked on five continents, we leave our boats on the car more than half the year, paddling on our local river as often as we can.
But I cannot imagine a more fulfilling career than teaching. There were certainly days that I doubted that, and in 1984 I actually considered a career change, but I remain perpetually grateful for my decades of teaching and learning.