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Diversity Examined at Payton as New Teachers are Hired and School Expands

As the school becomes larger and more teachers are hired, how does the diversity at Payton compare to CPS and Chicago?Infograph by TJ Boland and Julia Moore

Payton Expands to 1,077 and Hires New Teachers

BY NYARAI KHEPRA

Mr. Kevin Lee, Math

Paw Print: What is your favorite part of being a teacher?

Mr. Lee: “Getting to share this discipline that I love. Math is something that I really, really enjoy. The ability to share it and those moments when you share it with a student, and it just clicks. Everything comes together and there is this lightbulb, ‘aha’ moment that just gets you through the rest of the day. No matter how bad your day might’ve been going, it just makes everything good.” PP: What’s your favorite food?

Lee: “Just really good pizza.”

PP: Top 3 most interesting things about yourself?

Lee: “Hmmm…Let’s see. I spent a summer working in the NSA (National Security Agency), and I literally cannot tell you what I did, so that’s interesting. I dropped out of UIC twice and still managed to be here now. And I was a Hurricane Katrina evacuee.”

PP: What’s your zodiac sign? Lee: “I think it’s Sagittarius, but I wouldn’t bet my life on it.”

Ms. Rebecca Annunzio

PP: What’s your favorite part of being a teacher?

Annunzio: “ I like being able to interact with the students, being able to help mold them and help teach them to make great decisions, and giving them information so that when they move forward, they can make good decisions for themselves.”

PP: Top 3 most interesting things about yourself?

Annunzio: “I make my students do things like this, and I’m like, ‘Oh, it’s so easy! Just come up , Physical Education

PP: What’s your zodiac sign?

Annunzio: “Well, I’m on the cusp. I’m a Libra and a Scorpio. I know they claim that when you’re really charted, you’re either one or the other, but I definitely have traits from the both of them.” with something.’ [Laughs] I would have to say that I am a mother of a college student, presently. I don’t like to admit that, but I would have to say that’s pretty interesting, that she survived that long. I play 16- inch softball four nights a week. I was born and raised in the Portage Park neighborhood, and I didn’t even leave the building because my parents own a two-flat, and now I actually live upstairs. So I never actually left my neighborhood or my apartment!”

Mr. Joshua Wiggins, Social Science

PP: What’s your zodiac sign?

Wiggins: “Pisces.”

PP: What’s your favorite part of being a teacher?

Wiggins: “I think my favorite thing about being a teacher is connecting with students. Just getting to learn about, grow with, and teach a diverse set of students.”

PP: Top 3 most interesting things about yourself?

Wiggins: “I’ve told the students that I’m like a really regular, basic person. So, I played college football at Davidson College, right outside of Charlotte, North Carolina. I have a 6-year-old brother that I’m 20 years older than, and my favorite color is gray.”

PP: Who is your favorite artist?

Wiggins: “My favorite artist is Kendrick Lamar, and the reason I say that is because the reflection in his music and his evolution as an artist has been unreal to me. I consider myself a very reflective person. I’m always thinking about ways to improve in my career and as a person in general. I hear a lot of that in Kendrick’s music, and I also began listening to him when I was like a freshman or sophomore in college, which were really formative stages in my life. I don’t know, I just have a really deep connection with his music.”

Ms. Allison Gillick, English

PP: What’s your zodiac sign?

Gillick: “I’m a Scorpio.”

PP: What’s your favorite part of being a teacher?

Gillick: “My favorite thing about being a teacher is working with teenagers and all of the learning experiences that happen in the classroom, as well as outside of the classroom.”

PP: What’s your favorite food?

Gillick: “My favorite food, hands down, is pizza. My favorite pizza in Chicago is Pequod’s.”

PP: Top 3 most interesting things about yourself?

Gillick: “One interesting thing about myself is that I just started running marathons. Last year, I did my first half-marathon; I ran the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon. Another interesting thing is that I love music. I love seeing live music. I think I’ve seen Bob Dylan (he’s one of my favorites), about twenty times. Another interesting thing is that although I’ve lived the longest in Chicago, I initially lived in seven different places in my life.”

Ms. Laura Pavlik, Science

PP: What motivated you to become a teacher? When did you start?

Pavlik: “This is my first year teaching after student teaching at Northside last spring. I first wanted to be a physics teacher in high school, but I let people tell me that I was ‘too smart’ to teach high school, so when I was in college, I planned to go to grad school and become a professor. During one summer doing research in Germany, I was confronted by the ethical question of spending so much money on basic research when that money could be used for so many other things. I think research is important, but I didn’t want to face the question of whether my work was good every day of my life, so I decided to return to my dream of becoming a teacher, which I know is good work.”

PP: What’s your favorite food?

Pavlik: “I very much enjoy Indian food, and good bread.”

PP: Top 3 most interesting things about yourself?

Pavlik: “1. I love learning languages.I took Spanish in high school, and then a little French and Russian in college. I use Duolingo to learn German and Hebrew as well. 2. I wrote poetry and short stories for my college’s literary magazine. I still write a little poetry when I feel inspired. 3.Three of my best friends from my hometown and I make pie and play Settlers of Catan every time we get together.”

Ms. Adyna Jackson, Math

PP: What motivated you to become a teacher? When did you start?

Jackson: “Mr. Menacho and Ms. Hart. I had a class with Menacho where we discussed math education problems in the city of Chicago and shortly before that Ms. Hart had encouraged me to apply for the Golden Apple Scholarship because she thought I was good at explaining math to my peers.”

PP: What’s your favorite food? Jackson: “Jibarito con bistek, maduros, y arroz con gandules.”

PP: Top 3 most interesting things about yourself?

Jackson: “I teach crochet at my mother’s library. I sewed my own prom dress. I enjoy karaoke.”

 

PP: What’s your favorite thing about being a teacher?

Ms. Ginna Roach, Math

Roach: “My favorite thing about being a teacher is learning from my students. I feel lucky to get to teach such creative, thoughtful individuals, who constantly teach me new things about math, collaboration, and life in general.”

PP: Where did you grow up?

Roach: “I grew up outside of Washington, DC, in a suburb called Bethesda.”

PP: What’s your favorite food?

Roach: “I love all breakfast foods! Especially eggs, waffles, and pancakes. Yum.”

Mr. Oscar Najera, World Languages

PP: What’s your zodiac sign?

Najera: “I am an Aquarius.”

PP: What’s your favorite thing about being a teacher?

Najera: “My favorite thing about being a teacher is the relationships you build with students. Students make each day different and language class is about communication so they are the ones that really lead the class. I absolutely love coming to Payton each day to be able to share my love for the Spanish language and its culture.”

PP: Where did you grow up?

Najera: “I grew up in Wheeling, a northwest suburb of Chicago.”

PP: What is your favorite food?

Najera: “My favorite food is Mexican – tacos de asada, enchiladas, tamales.”

Ms. Tamara Driver, Counseling

PP: What’s your zodiac sign? Driver: “Cancer! Woot Woot!”

PP: What motivated you to become a teacher?

Driver: “I originally wanted to be a college professor, but my advisor told me that jobs teaching college level French were few and far between, so I decided I wanted to be employed and high school would be the better route.”

PP: When did you start?

Driver: “1999, after I graduated college. I taught French from ‘99- ’08 at Northside College Prep.”

PP: Top 3 most interesting things about yourself?

Driver: “1. I grew up in juvenile prison, not because I’m a criminal, but because my mom was a prison warden, and we lived on the institutions grounds. Sleepovers at my house were super popular amongst my friends! 2. I have a puppy named Cassius. He’s a chocolate lab mix named after Muhammad Ali because he’s such a pretty puppy. 3. This is my 19th year with CPS, but people still mistake me for a high school senior. Good genes, I guess.”

Ms. Kara Wilson-Wang, Science

PP: What’s your zodiac sign?

Wilson: “I’m a Taurus (western zodiac) and a Horse in the Chinese zodiac.”

PP: What motivated you to become a teacher? When did you start?

Wilson: “When I was in high school I actually really struggled with reading, not so much the logistics of how to do it, I understood most of what I read, but I read at such a slow pace. I had trouble keeping up with my peers and all the coursework associated with every class. I kind of felt like I wasn’t meant to do anything academic, and probably would have struggled with the idea of going to college if not for two teachers who really inspired me. My interactions with them is what kept me going even when I felt like I wasn’t going to be able to finish everything on time; I didn’t want to disappoint them. Things got better little-by-little, but even though the level of work was still overwhelming at times, I really appreciated the faith and encouragement I got from my teachers. I really wanted to be able to give back and help students the way my teachers helped me, and to be an example to all the kids out there who think they might not be able to do it.You can!”

PP: What’s your favorite food?

Wilson: “Ooo. Tough question! For real, I love all kinds of food. I’m not joking when I say eating is a hobby of mine. I’m going to have to say chicken shawarma has been my jam lately. But my handsdown, all-time, anytime fave is mac n’ cheese.”

PP: Top 3 most interesting things about yourself?

Wilson:“1. I was born in Pocatello, Idaho, and most of my Dad’s side of the family still lives within a two hour radius of there, so I visit often. 2. I’ve been to or through forty of the fifty states, but I’ve never been out of the country! 3. My favorite type of shoe is platform sneakers, and I have over ten different pairs.”

 

 

 

 

 

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