Teacher of the Month: Alex Polanco

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In this computer driven world, our teacher of the month encourages his students to give their computers a rest -- and get their hands dirty.

WGN's Teacher of the Month is Alex Polanco.  He’s an art teacher at Keller Junior High in northwest suburban Schaumburg. The Clay Project -- dirty hands and all -- is just one of many activities he uses to tap into his students creative abilities.

Alex Polanco, Teacher of the Month: “I consider myself an acoustic art teacher, so basically I think they need to have those basic art skills and know how to work with a pencil, how to work with paint, get their hands dirty with clay.”

Stephanie Klamer, nominating student: “I really love to do clay. It’s an experience, and you get to make something out of raw materials from the earth, and that’s very cool to me.”

Stephanie Klamer is an eighth grader looking forward to high school but nominated Mr. Polanco for teacher of the month hoping that before she left he would win … to get the recognition she says he deserves.

Mr Polanco: “It means a ton to me for her to take that step and nominate me.”

Stephanie Klamer: “He’s a great, great teacher. He is not like teachers who are uptight. He has rules, but he is easygoing.​”

Mr Polanco: “To be honest, I grew up in Puerto Rico, and I moved here when I was about in fourth grade, and I struggled a lot with school in general. Art is one of those things that I didn’t need somebody to explain it to me. I could see and it was easy to understand and I see that with a lot of my students, too, where it doesn’t matter what level they are in. I could have really advanced students doing work and I could have students that struggle and they need a place where creativity takes over and it's really cool to see success across the board.”

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