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Teacher of the Day

Name:  Renee Bogacz

School: Channahon Junior High School

Subject: Gifted English and Computers

State:  Illinois

What or who inspired you to become a teacher?

I was actually inspired to become a teacher by a bad teacher. I had a high school English teacher who was terrible -- if your interpretation of a piece of literature didn't match hers exactly, and then she assumed you were an idiot. I determined that if there was a balance that had all the English teachers in the world on it, she was tipping the scales in favor of the "bad" teachers. I needed to be a 'good" teacher to balance the scales. When I teach, I remember all the things she did that I didn't like and make sure I never do those things in my class.

How are things different for you now, compared to when you first started teaching?

When I first started teaching, I had to focus on so many of the "nuts and bolts" of teaching that I didn't have time to really build relationships with my students or their parents. Now that I have a pretty good grip on my curriculum, paperwork, lesson planning, and classroom management, I can focus more energy on getting to know my students personally as well as their parents.

What advice would you give to a new or struggling teacher?

Never be afraid to ask for help. Chances are every other teacher has faced the same struggles and found numerous ways to handle them. The vast majority of teachers are willing and eager to help new teachers be successful because ultimately, it benefits the entire profession and the students to have good teachers in the classroom.

My best day in the classroom was when…

I was teaching Fahrenheit 451 and one of my 8th graders told me the book reminded him of the movie Wall-E. The rest of the class chimed in that they agreed. I had never seen Wall-E so I watched it that weekend and they were right! I asked them to do a compare/contrast of the book and the movie and they kids were so insightful. I was completely knocked out by how they took the initiative to make the connection and were able to draw the inferences all on their own. I loved learning from them that day.

The best compliment I ever received was...

Every time I get a thank you note from a student or a parent for what I do, it is a compliment I treasure. But the best "thank you" I got was a couple years ago at our graduation ceremony when one of my students came up to me and handed me the most beautiful bouquet of flowers. He hugged me and told me thank you for being his teacher. His mom later told me that the flowers were all his idea. I have never been so touched as I was that night.

What's your favorite part of the school year?

My favorite part of the school year is spring. I do a video of our graduates for graduation that shows pictures of them as babies, grade school age, and current age. When the kids start bringing in their baby pictures in the spring for me to scan, I get such a kick out of seeing how much they have changed.

What is your one must-have item for the classroom?

An LCD projector.

What do you eat for breakfast on school days?

I eat a chocolate PowerBar. It's quick and easy and tasty.

What movie or TV show do you secretly love?

Say Yes to the Dress


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