Teacher of the Week: Lori Broady

Teacher of the Week: Lori Broady

Meet LORI BROADY, who is in her first full year teaching second grade at Tuscola's North Ward Elementary School after a 10-year run at Champaign's Next Generation School. Broady actually started at the Douglas County school in 2016 but didn't make it a month after receiving news she never imagined getting in her mid-30s. Here's more.

Last year — your first full year of teaching — was rough. What happened exactly? I spent my whole summer at the school getting my classroom ready. Three weeks in, I was feeling awful. I told my principal I had a kidney infection and had to leave immediately. I went to the doctor and they ran tests and started to hurry, and I knew something wasn't right.

The guy came back and said, "I'm sorry, we think you have really bad cancer." I had ovarian cancer at 35 years old, which is not what you expect to happen to you.

How did staff and students respond when they found out? The school was really willing to work with me. It was shocking because I hadn't been there long at all. The staff donated sick days to me — all these angels that I work with donated so many days that I ended up being paid for almost my entire year.

I was double-insured as a result, which made medical bills so much more manageable. If I had to go through something so awful, I could not ask for a better place.

How has your first full year of teaching gone? The best part of getting back was getting to put into plan all these dreams I'd had. The school I came from was very hands-on, so I brought in a lot of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) projects because I want kids to hit all those areas at once.

We do a lot of really cool, project-based learning where kids don't even realize they're learning. Then the parents find out and call to say they want to come be in second grade again.

What's something cool you're working on now? We're in the process of making volcanoes now. They researched them, then had to write out their step-by-step plan and help me draft an email to their parents requesting supplies. You can take a group of kids who have no experience with technology or writing and give them the tools, teach them a few times and then they're off.

What are you looking forward to this summer? Now, it's just been a matter of trying to put my life back together after (cancer). I am looking forward to spending time with my kids. We have a camping trip planned. And we'll be by the baseball field all summer.

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