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Teacher Appreciation Week: Champion Middle School’s Shailee Weber

woman sitting at desk smiling

May 09, 2024 This is Shailee Weber’s first full year as a teacher, and she is happy to spend it at Champion Middle School. She said everyone in the building works together, and she loves being part of the team. 

“Everybody here takes the work they are doing very seriously. We are working for the betterment of the kids,” Weber said. “[The students and staff] are wonderful and have really welcomed me here.”

Teaching is Weber’s second career. She started her professional life running beverage programs in high-end Chicago restaurants. When the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted this work, she decided to pivot. She had experience training others in the restaurant industry and wanted to transfer those skills to teaching sixth-grade students English Language Arts. 

“I’ve always been an English nerd - a reader and a writer,” she said. “Middle school is a really fun place, and [teaching] felt natural.” 

One of Weber’s goals as a teacher is to encourage her students to feel confident in their writing and reading abilities. She said sixth grade is a year of tremendous growth. When her students started the year, they were coming out of their final year as elementary students. She said she sees substantial improvement in the students’ literacy skills now that they have nearly finished their first year of middle school. 

“The kids have some good stories to tell. They’re writing three pages front and back [for our current project.] At the beginning of the year, they couldn’t even write three sentences,” Weber said. “It’s great to see.”

Seeing the students grow is one reason Weber is happy to have made a career switch. She wants to impact her community, and teaching is a tangible way of doing so. 

“It’s fun to feel like I’m doing something positive,” Weber said. “I felt like in my other job, I wasn’t able to do anything that made a difference. It’s nice to feel like I am making a difference in a group of kids’ lives.”

Even though she has only been teaching at Champion for a year, Principal Dr. Valencia Thomas said she has become a valued school community member. 

“Ms. Weber understands why we are here and the work that we do, and she always makes decisions with the students in mind,” Dr. Thomas said. “She leads without being prompted; she is here for the kids.”

Her dedication to the students goes beyond sharpening their literacy skills. Dr. Thomas said Weber’s room has become a space where students can come if they’re feeling overwhelmed or need a break. She has developed a relationship with her students that lets them know they can come to her if they need someone to listen to them. 

“She is well-loved by the students,” Dr. Thomas said. “She has a strong rapport with them, and they often seek her out if they need a break.”

Weber loves the students as much as they do her, and she is excited to continue teaching at Champion in the future. She has made a lasting connection with the school and is proud to be a Champion Tiger.

Power of One

Priority 1 - Whole Child FocusedPriority 2 - Equitable Opportunities for AllPriority 3 - Strong Learning Communities in Every RegionPriority 4 - Authentic Engagement