Retiring educator: Barb Schwarzentraub

Staff Writer
Geneseo Republic
Barb Schwarzentraub

School C.R. Hanna Elementary School, Orion.

Grade level and subject Kindergarten through fifth grade music.

Who and what inspired you to become a teacher?

I always wanted to be a teacher since I was little. As many children do, I lined up my dolls and teddy bears and played school for hours. My sister and one of my brothers were teachers as well.

Why did you choose this subject or this grade level?

When I was little, our school didn't start music classes until fifth grade. John Monkman was my first music teacher. He was a phenomenal teacher who touched many lives through music in our small town. He was also my piano teacher.

Three of my older brothers were very active in music through contests, musicals and even operas. Music brought so much joy to my life, I wanted to share that with young students.

I enjoy all aspects of music: theory, history, creativity, practice, performance, directing, listening and of course: teaching.

What were your biggest challenges as a teacher? How did you handle them?

My biggest challenge was teaching a subject that is not state-mandated or state-tested.

When there are budget or scheduling problems, the fine arts are the first to suffer. I had to be a vocal advocate for my program at faculty meetings and board meetings. I strived to demonstrate in my classroom that the students were not just singing songs, but were actually studying reading, math, history, science and language arts.

What teaching moments have been the most memorable in your career?

In the classroom, I just love the times when I give a group composition assignment and the room is abuzz with the excitement of the students actually working on their project.

As for performances, it was especially heartwarming when a student who struggles in other areas of the curriculum can really shine as a musician.

What are your plans for your retirement?

I have some traveling to do. There are 17 states, Mexico, Europe, and Austratlia on my list to visit. Otherwise, I have many projects at home to complete, and I love to watch the Cardinals, Bulls, Bears and Illini.


Age 55

Residence Coal Valley

Hometown Kirkland

Education Hiawatha High School, University of Illinois (bachelor of science), Olivet Nazarene University (master of science)

Experience 33 years: C. R. Hanna, 25; Westmer, 3; Rock Island, 1; East Peoria, 4

Hobbies Reading and watching movies

Family Husband, Lloyd, retiring from AlWood as physical education teacher, dean of students and tech coordinator; sons, Nathan, physical education and health teacher at Beecher Elementary, and Adam, director of food and beverage for Windy City Thunderbolts in Crestwood