As students shine on stage, Chicago teacher is real star of the show

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CHICAGO — January’s Teacher of the Month knows how to build confidence in her students. It’s a lesson at the heart of the drama program she started at Immaculate Conception School on the city’s Northwest side, and while her students shine on stage, they said Ms. Julie Szwedo is the real star of the show.

Szwedo always knew she wanted to be a teacher, just like her father, who was also a Chicago police officer.

“He used to take me with him to Wells High School where he taught,” she said. “And I was just so enamored with that experience.”

For the last 27 years, Szwedo has been walking in her dad’s footsteps and 20 years and 40 productions later, Szwedo’s drama club is a real hit.

“I started with 12 students and now I have about 140 students that participate in my productions,” she said. “Getting up in front of other middle schoolers and being able to perform in front of them is the ultimate confidence builder.”

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