Memorable teaching moments that have impacted DGS teachers

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Jovana Kuzmanovic

The day-to-day life of a DGS teacher usually consists of lesson-planning, meetings and, of course, teaching, but there are times when irregular events occur and leave a mark on teachers.

By Jovana Kuzmanovic, Downers Grove South High School

The day-to-day life of a DGS teacher usually consists of lesson-planning, meetings and, of course, teaching, but there are times when irregular events occur and leave a mark on teachers in various ways.

Drivers education teacher and baseball coach Timothy Cappelen has been teaching driver’s education for 15 years. Teaching teenagers how to drive is a serious task that usually doesn’t consist of fooling around, but there are times when events occur that spark a few chuckles.

“There was one time I was telling a student that they had to tell the car which mirror they wanted to control when they were doing their pre-drive checklist. The student didn’t use the button on the door. [Instead], they were talking to the steering wheel, and they said ‘left mirror,’” Cappelen said.

Being on the road isn’t the only place where many safety precautions need to be taken. Chemistry teacher Jennifer Fischer has also had various moments that have started out as hazardous but now have resulted in a life-long memory that she now laughs upon. In particular there was a time she worked with a student to make up a lab after school and a student decided that he would take the entire box of pipettes back to his table even though he only needed one.

“On his way to his lab table, he tripped over a desk chair leg and dropped the entire box of glass pipettes on the floor. 500 glass pipettes rolled around the floor — many of them broken. The student then jumped around, stepped on and broke even more, and then basically climbed backwards over a desk to get away from the glass pipettes,” Fischer said.

Not all events that teachers encounter are comical. There are many experiences that occur and leave a more sentimental feeling within the teachers. English teacher Nicole Proimos described one of her most memorable moments-her first St. Baldrick’s assembly.

“[The school] had students come in who went through childhood cancer. In particular there were a little boy and girl who were best friends since they were little, and he supported her through her cancer experience, and they came to talk to the whole student body. It was really moving and I don’t think there were many dry eyes in the house. … [Also,] you go through assemblies, and it’s kind of like a school thing, but [this assembly] really put it into perspective what we are doing as a community,” Proimos said.

These more unusual events are very fascinating, but the memories the teachers cherish the most are the ones that not only impact the teachers themselves but also their students.

“I did have a student he had a hard time throughout school. He didn’t quite jive with his teacher. He ended up aiding for me when I was a speech coach, and we would just kind of chat every day about how things were going,” Proimos said.

A couple of months ago this student sent Proimos a video through text message about his experience of feeling lost and trying to find his identity. He states that one of the reasons he wanted to make this video was because he felt supported by teachers like Proimos. This touched Proimos majorly.

“It was really moving that I could have an effect on someone who felt hopeless at certain times. I thought it was very sweet that he felt that security in me, and I hope that every student can find someone like that in the school,” Proimos said.

Fischer also finds gratitude in her students’ success.

“The coolest thing as a teacher is when kids make some connection and it finally clicks and then you can just see this waterfall of connections that just come because of that… I feel like they get the reward then and I love when students feel successful…so it’s really cool when I see that and I feel good for them to get that validation of their hard work paying off… That’s when I know I love my job,” Fischer said.

This story was originally published on Blueprint on February 25, 2020.