Retiring educator: Mary Brewers
School C.R. Hanna Elementary School, Orion.
Grade level Third grade
Who and what inspired you to become a teacher?
I was very fortunate to have many excellent teachers throughout my education. I think they all inspired me in some way to want to go into education. My junior high physical education teacher and high school Biology II teacher were the most influential. These two educators shared a passion and dedication to teaching each day through their interaction with all their students.
Why did you choose this subject or this grade level?
When I finished my master’s degree, I was allowed to transfer from the high school to C. R. Hanna to teach third grade. I love this age group. Third graders are independent and energetic, and most still think school is cool. They love to work in groups, share their essays or special projects with the class, and listen to a good book being read aloud.
What were your biggest challenges as a teacher? How did you handle them?
Differentiating instruction to meet the abilities of every student is one of the biggest challenges I have faced over the years. It requires countless hours of planning, creative classroom management, leveled materials, flexibility and cooperation. I have taken classes and attended workshops, and last summer I participated in the State of Illinois’ gifted education training, which focused primarily on differentiated instruction.
What teaching moments have been the most memorable in your career?
A memorable moment came when a former student of mine, Lauren Hills, nominated me for the “My Favorite Teacher” award. What an overwhelming feeling it was to think I had impacted someone’s life in such a positive way. I will never forget the kind words Lauren read from her nomination letter as the TV cameras were filming in my classroom. It was a very special day.
Other special memories include helping third graders turn the south hallway into a rain forest after we followed the Wilderness Classroom team travel through the Amazon Rain Forest, and planting trees at Loud Thunder Boy Scout Reservation as part of our environmental education program.
What are your plans for your retirement?
After a quick “girls’ adventure” to Tennessee, I hope to spend lots of time with my grandson, Dylan. My husband and I will spend winters at our home in Gold Canyon, Ariz., and I plan to dive into my quilting. There are several unfinished projects that need my attention.
Education Monmouth High School; bachelor of arts degree in physical education, with a minor in science, from Monmouth College; master of science degree in elementary education, Western Illinois University
Experience 33 years, all in Orion
Hobbies Quilting, counted cross stitch, puzzles
Family Husband, Mike; daughter, Katie; son-in-law, Adam; grandson, Dylan