By CIARA SWEATMAN
As the new school year begins, Illinois College welcomes new faculty members hailing from all over the country. They’ve studied at schools such as Florida State University, Ohio State University, University of Maryland, and even University of Burdwan, West Bengal, India.
However, one of the professors that we are welcoming to the Illinois College Community, we are in fact welcoming back.
Mary English, visiting instructor in Education this year, actually received her Bachelor of Arts from Illinois College. “I am from Jacksonville – all of my life – and IC was always a part of my town. So it was not surprising that in 1966, I walked onto the IC campus as a student,” English said.
English remembers being a low-income, first-generation student at the start of her college career, but Illinois College wouldn’t let that become a factor in determining who she would become. “I give credit to IC for giving me the education I needed to be successful in my teaching career.”
The Illinois College campus has changed in many ways since English attended as a student in the 60s, but she remembers when Crispin was a new building, fascinating to all. Now, almost 50 years later, she has an office in Crispin, room 204, and that, she says, “is amazing.”
“I chose to teach at IC because this college is dear to my heart. It is small and the professors enjoy the students and make them feel like young adults. I love the ambience of the college grounds and the pride the college gives to the buildings and traditions of the campus,” said English.
English is happy to be back here on Illinois College grounds just as other professors are happy to have her here, as well.
English wrote the Early Childhood Block Grant each year during her time serving #117, and when retiring in 2011, the budget was over one million dollars.
Recently, she was awarded the Bill Russell award for innovation in teaching, an honor that she is very humbled by.
With all of the experience English has in the school district, she has an immense amount of knowledge to show for it that she hopes to pass on to her soon-to-be teachers.
“I hope I can instill in the Early Childhood teachers a love of education and an awareness that they are the student’s other caretaker for 8 hours a day,” said English. “Their classroom becomes the child’s second home for a little while, and while we always need to teach, we also need to nurture and build strong relationships with our students no matter who they are…”
This philosophy seems to be something English uses not only with her younger students, but also the students she is working with currently at the collegiate level.
Though English is working at Illinois College for the time being, she plans to get back into retirement again soon. “I love being with my grandchildren and traveling and reading. I love to watch a child’s eyes grow wide with understanding a concept, and I thank God for all the little eyes I have been blessed to watch.”