Teacher of the Week: Allison Imig

Teacher of the Week: Allison Imig

On Wednesdays, we'll spotlight a difference-making area educator. To nominate a teacher, tweet staff writer Noelle McGee (@n_mcgee) with the hashtag "#TeacheroftheWeek."

This week, meet Allison Imig, a special-education teacher at the READY program in Champaign, an alternative school for students across Champaign and Ford counties.

In addition to her special-education classroom, Imig also teaches English I, English II and a personal and social development course. She's been at READY since she did her student teaching there in 2001 and never left because it's the "perfect job" for her.

"What makes our school unique is that it is smaller, so I get to know each and every one of my students. Also, we have an amazing staff that cares about our students and wants to see them succeed in life, not just in the classroom," she said. "We have an amazing teacher, Mr. Dewhirst, who makes breakfast and lunch for the kids, so they don't get the regular 'cafeteria' food. The food here is amazing. The staff here is one of the reasons I love coming to work every day."

What makes you unique as an educator? I think what makes me unique is that I am able to relate to the kids and form great relationships with them. I share some things about my personal life — within reason — and they feel comfortable doing the same with me. I want them to learn more from me than just reading and writing. I want them to learn about people and how to create relationships with others that may be different from them, how to be tolerant and respectful of others as well as how to get others to respect them. Also, I don't take myself too seriously and I like to have fun in the classroom. We laugh a lot.

What do your students like most about you? Probably my goofiness and how I respect them and can relate to them.

Favorite tactic for getting students to pay attention? I've been known to sing/rap and talk in accents before which sometimes gets their attention. Also candy ... I'm not afraid to give out candy to keep kids focused. It's amazing how much more they can focus when they have a sucker or gum.

Three items you have on your desk? Water bottle, my "popsicle" lamp, pictures of my family.

Teaching supply you can't live without? My hole puncher. I love my hole puncher.

Funniest question a student has ever asked you? Around the presidential election, a student asked me, "What state is the electoral college in?" They thought it was an actual college.

One of my favorite teachers growing up was ... Mrs. Eyman. She was my middle school math teacher at Franklin Middle School and she was phenomenal! She was so caring and sweet and made math fun.

Favorite hobby? Watching sports (the Cubs, the Bulls, the Bears) and watching my children play in sports. And reading books.

Tell me about a lesson plan you're most proud of. I don't know if there is a specific lesson that I'm most proud of, but I love to watch that "light bulb" turn on and see my students figure out how to do something. There is no better feeling than watching them do something they didn't think they could do. Also, reading some of their journal responses to how they feel about a novel we are reading, or something we've talked about. Sometimes they can be really powerful and insightful. I love reading my student's journals.

Subject/topic you enjoy teaching the most? I love reading books with the kids. Most of my students HATE reading, so I try to pick books that are really interesting that they can relate to or that will keep their interest. I love when the students ask "Can we read today?" because they are so interested in the book and can't wait to find out what happens.

What's the best part of your job? What's the most difficult part? The best part of my job is working with the greatest staff ever and getting to know some pretty awesome kids. The most difficult part of my job is how much I worry about my students when they're not in school, especially with the shootings and fights that are happening in this community. I am always so afraid to lose another student present or past to senseless violence. I have lost students in the past and that is by far one of the worst things I've ever gone through.

Social media you use most often? Facebook probably. I like to keep up with old students and watch how their lives are going.

What's your classroom pet peeve? Be respectful. As long as you are respectful towards me and others, everything will be fine and we will get along great!If you could visit any country in the world, where would you go? I've always wanted to go to Africa and go on a safari.

Latest you've stayed at school working? 8:30 p.m. when we have parent teacher conferences.

What does your morning routine look like? I get myself ready, wake my kids up and get them ready, feed them breakfast, take them to school, stop at Casey's and get an unsweetened tea and drive to school. I then eat breakfast in the cafeteria with the students.

Where did you go to college and why did you decided to get into education? I went to college first at Parkland because as many kids, I had no idea what I wanted to do. Both my parents are music teachers and I knew I didn't want to teach music. I watched some TV show about professionals working with kids with emotional disorders and I thought it was amazing the work they did with them, so I decided to get my degree in special education. I then went to Illinois State University in Bloomington to get my bachelor's degree, then after a few years of teaching, got my master's from the U of I.

What's the best day of the week? Obviously Fridays or even Thursdays. I mean, we're over the hump and everyone is getting ready for the weekend.

My favorite song is ... "Wild Thing" by Tone Loc. It's a long story.

If I weren't a teacher, I would be ... a dolphin trainer even though I'm deathly afraid of deep water.

I'm always texting ... my boyfriend, Terry, or my kids.

If I could get free tickets to a concert it would be ... to see Jay-Z and Justin Timberlake together. Best concert I've ever been to, and I would love to see them again.

My favorite local restaurant is ... Buffalo Wild Wings.

One item on my bucket list is ... skydiving.

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