English teacher ‘inspires everyone’ at Chicago middle school

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In the words of one of her students ... our teacher of the month is bubbly and entertaining, committed and caring, challenging and worthy of recognition. Her name is Elizabeth Stefanec. She teaches 6th, 7th and 8th grade English at St Helen School on Chicago's northwest side, and she is making a difference.

Giavanna Javan, nominating student: "She makes a difference because she inspires everyone and she always uses different ways to teach the class. We need to look outside in the real world and see how beautiful the real world is and not just technology influenced."

Elizabeth Stefanec, Teacher of the Month: "I am always asking them, ‘What do you think about that? What do you think about this game? Do you want to try this sometime? Or give me some sort of idea.’ We kinda bounce around ideas off of each other and it's unique to each and every class, 'cause they are all so different."

Giavanna Javan: "Some students will have a rough time and she will focus on them and try to create new ways to click with their brain, make them understand.”

The challenge is real and the reward is great.

Stefanec, Teacher of the Month: “They bring so much positivity into my own life.  They are a joy. They can make you forget about all the other troubles that are going on and if I can give back to them in some way ... if it's just a smile, a lesson.”

And Giavanna, the 8th grader who nominated Ms Stefanec, while acknowledging her own personal growth, says she thinks the teacher of the month has a lot in common with the goals she sets for her students.

Giavanna: “She wants to become an even better teacher, because she knows she'll have flaws some time, but always wants to become better and better and better.”

For a job well done Saint Xavier University rewarded Ms Stefanec with a $1,000 check and her students showered her with applause.