This is my first year teaching. I work in a special education cooperative teaching 6th-8th grade. It’s a really unique group of students. They’re not able to be in their regular school districts so they come to us and we are able to accommodate their individualized needs. I was a paraprofessional for nine years, but once I started working in special education, I knew this was where I needed to be. The students helped me find out who I was as an individual and an educator and now I have my masters in special education.
The teacher shortage in Illinois is a real concern. Before Bruce Rauner became governor, we had a large amount of substitute teachers and paraprofessionals. Now, if I’m sick, I have to think about how that is going to affect my students. They can’t always find a substitute right away and it’s especially hard to find a substitute who understands my students and has the skills to make them comfortable. There are also less resources to give my students cultural experiences in the community because of Bruce Rauner’s budget crisis. Many of my students come from families who can’t afford to give them those experiences at home, so what we give them at school is all they have. But we’re really limited by what Bruce Rauner did to the funding for our district. As teachers, we’ve taken money out of our own pockets to try and minimize that. If I want to take the children to the movies or to a museum and I know a student can’t afford to go, I will pay for it myself.
We need leadership in Springfield that understands the value of education and the value of teachers. I feel as if a lot of people are running away from the profession and we need to restore the honor to it. I support JB because I know he will do that. JB has really made his presence known to IEA and to teachers. I admire his commitment to education, his core values, and especially what he’s done to get children school breakfasts. That really stood out. I fully believe he has the children at heart and I know that will be central to him in Springfield. That means a lot to me as an educator.