Literature teacher encourages students’ dreams through deep lessons

WGN’s June Teacher of the Month teaches literacy, but it’s her own words that inspire her students, and her lessons are designed with deeper meaning in mind.

“Let’s share some of our dreams,” Josephine Hatch-Skipper said. “I have a similar background with the students growing up in Chicago, so I just wanted them to have an adult in their life that believes in them and wants them to know that they can achieve anything.”

That is the central theme in Hatch-Skipper’s classroom at Gale Community Academy on Chicago’s North Side.

Nia Campbell was the nominating student and she said the class discusses poetry every day.

"She would give us an assignment or a passage and understanding and developing the meaning or the main idea of the passage," she said.

“I pick literature that I know is a life lesson or thematic. I also want to invoke character building in it, so that I can also teach them to be a better person,” Hatch-Skipper said.

The lessons aren’t lost on Nia, the shy and soft-spoken student said her confidence is on the rise.

“I’ve kind of grown. At the beginning I was like a little seed and at the end you’re kind of like a flower. I think I started the year shy and not really outgoing and kind of like, not negative, but I wasn’t really good at certain subjects and then the middle to the end where I became more outgoing and more talkative and positive when it comes to learning stuff,” she said.

“We saw that she is not just a teacher of literacy, but she’s a teacher of students who need a warm, caring, nurturing teacher, and she is all those things,” Jane Lundin of Saint Xavier University said.

To honor Mrs Hatch-Skipper, Saint Xavier University presented her with a $1,000 check. But it’s the recognition by her students that deeply touched the veteran teacher.

“I’ve been doing this for over 20 years, and this is the first time I’ve ever received any kind of recognition like this. It was just an honor to know that somebody thought enough of me to actually nominate me for something like this, so I’m grateful and blessed to have the students I have because they are wonderful kids,” Hatch-Skipper said.

The Teacher of the Month segment is going on summer break, but we’ll be back in September.