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JANUARY 2020 Teachers Profile BRIDGET BAIRD, Applied Skills, Lake Central High School, St. John Profile Recognizing Excellence in Teaching Through Dedication, Compassion & Knowledge LAKE COUNTY Why Teaching is More Than a Day Job: FavoriTe ParT oF Teaching: Morgavan says each year has presented unique challenges and triumphs. “I feel so lucky to be able to make a difference in the lives of children. School is like a second home for most students, and I want them to come in every day knowing that no matter what is happening at home or anywhere else they have people who love and care for them. Kindergarten is a foundation for the rest of their lives. I want to ensure that my students have a strong foundation that will support them as they grow up.” Impactful education doesn’t feel like a chore, and Baird uses various creative methods in her classroom including the celebration of holidays such as National Pig Day (March 1) or Leif Erikson Day (Oct. 9). “I get to use my creativity to create academic lessons incorporating whatever wacky topic we’re celebrating that day,” she says. “At the end of the year, we do a reflection project that looks back on highlights of the past school year. No one ever writes that their favorite day was on the random Wednesday that we went over place value or practiced our math facts. It’s always the days we celebrated something wacky. Some students have even come into school on those days with themed shirts!” Why Teaching is More Than a Day Job: Chloros says she can’t see herself doing anything other than teaching. “I love going to work each day to watch all of my students grow not only academically but emotionally and socially. When I see a child accomplish something they were not previously able to do, I’m immediately filled with joy and reminded of why I became a teacher. My students are always a light in my day even when the days aren’t always perfect. They make each day unique.” Profile Why Teaching is More Than a Day Job: Purdue University graduate Amanda Morgavan likens the first week of teaching kindergarten to herding cats “because they’re all new to this school experience,” she says. “Despite all that, by the end of the school year they can read books and write sentences all on their own. I absolutely love how excited the children get when they realize they are readers. Their eyes light up as they ask me if they can read a book to me, which fills my heart with joy.” Morgavan credits her first-grade teacher with inspiring her to become a teacher. “She was always overflowing with love for her students, and I wanted to be just like her.” This is Morgavan’s third year of teaching. FavoriTe ParT oF Teaching: Kindergarten, Peifer Elementary School, Schererville PORTER COUNTY Bridget Baird’s passion for helping began with a career in the nonprofit sector before it evolved into teaching. After obtaining her undergraduate degree at the University of Indianapolis, Baird moved to Boston and worked with a nonprofit assisting survivors of domestic abuse while she obtained a master’s degree in political science. A move to Chicago and more nonprofit work with at-risk individuals and those seeking employment compelled Baird to obtain a master’s degree in special education from Indiana University Northwest. “With that, I found my niche,” she explains. “I’ve taught a variety of subjects, but probably my favorite ones to teach are reading and math. The quote about ‘loving what you do and you’ll never have to work a day in your life’ finally rings true with me. Education is my passion.” Teaching is the fulfillment of Ashley Chloros’s lifelong dream. After teaching fifth grade for four years, she was hired as a kindergarten teacher at Peifer, the school she attended. Chloros recalls the thrill of finding a yardstick with her kindergarten teacher’s name on it when she went through supplies as she organized her classroom. “I can’t explain the feeling of holding something from my very first teacher at my former school that I was now going to teach at. It’s definitely a moment I was thankful for, and I’m thankful for all of my former teachers for helping pave the way to my future.” ASHLEY CHLOROS, excellence of ® FavoriTe ParT oF Teaching: Why Teaching is More Than a Day Job: Gretchen Bishop participated in cross-country, swimming, and track at Portage High School when a friend suggested Bishop take a painting class with her. Though she initially laughed at the suggestion, Bishop agreed and was surprised to discover she had a talent for art. After receiving a degree in art education and art history from Purdue University, Bishop was a substitute teacher for a year before being hired as an art teacher at her alma mater. She stresses that art class isn’t just for those who intend to have a career in art. Bishop says it can also help students in problemsolving across various disciplines. “I believe it’s important for students to think in a different way than they’re asked to think in their other classes, to work in a hands-on environment, and to learn to use self-discipline to work through obstacles where they don’t have a book to provide the right answer. I believe it’s important for them to also see that there isn’t always one way to do things. As long as the task gets done, it’s OK to create your own path to get there.” Bishop is in her twelfth year of teaching at Portage. FavoriTe ParT oF Teaching: Bishop has contributed to her school and community in her classroom, as an artist, track coach, sophomore class sponsor, and by helping students display their work and compete in area art shows. She credits her mom, who taught at Myers Elementary School in Portage for 43 years, for encouraging her to pursue her teaching career and give back. “I believe it’s incredibly important to give back to my community because this is the place where I grew up, where I live, and where I plan on raising my children,” she says. “Giving back to your community helps create an environment of positivity, and, I’m giving back to a community that’s given so much to me.” AMANDA MORGAVAN, Kindergarten, Porter Lakes Elementary School, Hebron Profile GRETCHEN BISHOP, Art, Portage High School, Portage Exclusively Valparaiso • Merrillville • Chicago P assion • C ommitment • e xCellenCe K en a llen l aw . Com (877)G o w ith K en Kenneth J. Allen Law Group, LLC, 1109 Glendale Blvd., Valparaiso, IN, responsible for content.