When Gloria Román was a small child growing up in Elgin, one of her favorite pastimes was “playing school” with her siblings and other family members who would take turns acting as the teacher. She loved the real thing, too, finding elementary school nearly as fun as the pretend play.
Román attended Larsen Middle School and graduated a year early from Larkin High School. Life and raising a family slowed down her education, and she worked in the medical field for 16 years, but knew there was “something more, something else” for her.
That “something more” ended up being a career in education: Román has worked in School District U-46 as an elementary teacher and mentor specialist for 15 years. She and other District representatives will be on hand to talk about education-related careers to students attending Explore 2017: A Community, Curriculum, and Career Expo being held on Saturday, Oct. 14 at Elgin Community College.
Román earned her associate’s degree from Elgin Community College, then a Bachelor’s degree from Roosevelt University, and a master’s degree in education from Aurora University. She also holds an Illinois Administrative Certificate.
Román was hired in U-46 as a 3rd grade bilingual elementary teacher, and she spent about 10 years teaching 3rd through 5th grades.
“That first year, your head is just spinning. Your colleagues play a huge role in helping you be successful in your career,” she said.
After she found her footing, she loved being in the classroom.
“I always felt like someone was paying me to play with their children,” she says. “We were learning and enjoying and it didn’t seem like work. It was a fun environment. The kids would say ‘Is it really time to go home now?’”
After about 10 years in the classroom, Román became a Mentor Specialist-ELL, a role she has filled for about five years now. This year she is working with about 13 teachers who are either new to teaching or new to the District.
“I enjoy visiting all the classrooms. I get to see kindergarten through middle school, it’s expanded my horizons,” she said.
Román is the trainer for teachers in U-46 who receive student teachers into their classrooms. She also acts as a District-wide coordinator for the Future Teachers Clubs in the high schools, setting up field trips and meetings, and interacting with student members at events.
“You can tell some of the students will be awesome teachers and have a love for the career and profession,” she said. “Teaching is for people who want to make a difference in someone’s life.”
Román advises students going into teaching to look into getting their pre-requisites out of the way at a community college before heading to a university. She also urges them to think about the population they want to work with -- teaching kindergarteners to master their sounds, letters and words is a lot different than teaching middle school science.
For students who are bilingual and considering a teaching career, Román says the bilingual community puts teachers “on a very high pedestal. We are working with their children and will make a difference in their lives.”