Northern Illinois University Hosts Future Teachers Conference – Shaw Local

DeKALB — High school students in DeKalb and Kane counties had the opportunity this week to explore education options at a future teacher conference hosted by Northern Illinois University.

NIU’s College of Education, Waubonee Community College, and the Valley Education for Employment System (VALEES) program all teamed up to host the event on Wednesday.

VALUES is a regional delivery system established by the Illinois State Board of Education that serves 17 school districts, two area vocational training centers, a special education cooperative, and Waubonee Community College, according to its website. Career Aid covers five counties and works with the College of DuPage, Joliet Junior College and Kishwaukee College to promote vocational and technical training.

LaDonna Dawkins, a high school student from West Aurora, said she’s been taking education classes since her junior year and it determined the type of career she wanted to pursue.

“I won’t say I always knew I wanted to be a teacher, but I will say I loved working with kids,” Dawkins said. “So I knew I wanted to do something in education.”

Wednesday’s event highlighted the opportunities secondary school students could have in the region to pursue careers in education. The conference was funded by a grant from VALEES and a Scaling Education Pathways grant from Waubonee Community College.

“A few years ago we received a grant, Scaling Education Pathways in Illinois,” said Bob Cofield, director of partnerships for the school district in Waubonsee. “This is the one from a state agency funded by NIU. The purpose of this grant project is to streamline the academic path of students.

NIU College of Education Dean Laurie Ellish-Piper addressed the students.

Lindsey Jensen, 2018 Illinois Teacher of the Year and Director of Early Career and Student Development for the Illinois Education Association, was the event’s featured speaker.

“Teachers, we have the power to bring people together, that’s what we do,” Jensen said during his speech. “It’s our job to see in children what they don’t see in themselves… If you don’t take anything else away from what I’m saying today, I hope it’s that the children who need love the most will often ask you for it in the least loving way.

Students from 10 VALEES member schools participated in the conference, including Somonauk High School, Indian Valley Vocational Center and West Aurora High School.

Students dug in small groups on the NIU campus for part of the conference, learning more about future educator curricula that may be available to them through art, music, mathematics and agriculture.

Thomas Adelman, a senior from Somonauk High School who graduates in less than a month, said he wants to continue his education. Although he hasn’t chosen a university yet, he is considering both Waubonsee and NIU.

“Education has always found a way to filter itself into the picture,” he said.

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