Katie Schmelzer never thought she would be in the classroom.
Yet alone, 1,000 miles away, as well as a world of difference from her native Lake Station, the 2005 Lake Station grad and former track athlete, is teaching music in inner-city Philadelphia. She was a music major at DePauw University and wanted to get into non-profit arts management.
"No way did I want to be a teacher," Schmelzer said. "My mom, most of my family are teachers and I just didn't want to go into that profession.
"I didn't go into my field, but some things opened up and I ended up in Philadelphia."
Schmelzer teaches at Locke Elementary School in tough West Philadelphia. She is with the Philadelphia Teaching Fellows, an alternate route teacher certification program. She said while many look at it as a challenge, she sees teaching as a great opportunity.
"My students deserve to be taught music and have the opportunity to learn and appreciate music," Schmelzer said. "I want them to take pride in not only music and culture, but in anything they do. I have high expectations of them and I want that they have high expectations of themselves."
She is in her third year of teaching and said the city itself is a great teaching background.
"If you are a teacher, what better place than Philadelphia with all of its history," Schmelzer said. "It is a great city and the African-American culture here is very prominent and I want my students to learn about their past and I am also learning a great deal."
It was a cultural change from Lake Station or DePauw, but she said she made the adjustment well.
"As a kid, I loved going to Chicago and its urban landscape," Schmelzer said. "Same thing when I interned in New York. You can really learn a lot from our older, big cities."
Schmelzer remains true to her track and field roots, though she runs longer distances. She recently competed in the Chicago and Philadelphia marathons.
"My times were not great, but I ran OK," Schmelzer said. "I really like running, it helps keep my life in balance."
She said she now roots for the Phillies, and will side with the Bears next week when they play the Eagles on Monday Night Football.
Schmelzer said she cannot answer who makes the best cheesesteak in Philly -- Geno's or Pat's.
"I'm a vegetarian," Schmelzer said. "I eat the cheese fries."