The student news site of Glenbard South High School in Glen Ellyn, Illinois

The Independent

The student news site of Glenbard South High School in Glen Ellyn, Illinois

The Independent

The student news site of Glenbard South High School in Glen Ellyn, Illinois

The Independent

The Wizard of Oz: Interviews with the Cast
Olivia Abbott and Aniyah NelsonApril 7, 2024

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A Lifelong, Passionate Learner, Mrs. Peterson is a Wonderful New Addition to South’s Science Department

Mrs.+Peterson+is+an+experienced+educator+with+11+years+of+prior+teaching+experience+under+her+belt.+
Mrs. Peterson is an experienced educator with 11 years of prior teaching experience under her belt.

While this is Mrs. Gabrielle Peterson’s first year at Glenbard South, this is- in fact- her 11th year teaching. Peterson previously taught in a Chicago charter school for three years and then at Naperville North before coming to South. Peterson majored in Biology and Education at Northwestern University for her undergraduate degree after attending West Leyden High School in Northlake, Illinois. She went on to pursue a masters degree from the University of Kansas.  

It was her own high school experience that led Peterson to become a teacher. During her senior year Peterson had the opportunity to mentor the freshmen at her school. “I love science. I was really passionate about it,” said Peterson in reflection. Working with freshmen allowed her to discover how she could link science with education. She explained, “Teaching led me to keep learning science and keep exploring but also work with high school students and help them just figure out where they want to go and what they want to do.” Teaching allows Peterson to combine her passion for science with her passion for teaching and mentoring high schoolers. 

Peterson shared the reason for her love of working with high school students. “I love working with high school students because you guys have thoughts and opinions and care about the world.” She continued that seeing high schoolers develop their passions and interests inspires her. “I learn so much about the world,” said Peterson about her students. “I love that about high school students.” 

Peterson described the most rewarding part of her job as the small moments she has with students. “I mean every teacher dreams of that, ‘I changed this student’s life’ moment,” she conceded. However, she shared that while a teacher may not change every student’s life completely, the small moments of success are what the job is all about. She explained that, “it could be a 30 second moment of ‘oh my gosh I get this one question’ and they might still be struggling. Their grade might go up 1% but just to know that you allowed that student to believe in themselves, that’s what’s really rewarding. To see that spark, especially in a student that was struggling.” 

Teaching takes more than passion though, it takes hours of hard work. “There’s a lot of moving pieces as a teacher,” said Peterson. “I’ve heard the description that teachers have like 100 tabs open in their brain,” she explained. Balancing planning, grading, supporting students and all of the other pieces that make up teaching can be tricky. But all the work is worth it for her students. Peterson cares about each of her students’ success and puts in the work to help them to succeed. 

And it is evident that Peterson is as passionate about her students as she is about the subject she teaches. “It’s always changing,” said Peterson, commenting on her subject with a shimmer in her eye, “the things we learn in 10 years truly could be different.” Peterson may be the teacher but, “I am learning as much as the students every day and I think that’s really cool.” “I’m never bored,” she added. Peterson may be done with her own schooling but she is a lifelong learner. “There’s always new articles, new research, new experiments coming out,” said Peterson. “When COVID happened, we could explore that type of virus, which is something so pertinent to the real world. There is just so much to learn.” Peterson is passionate about her subject and, always curious, revels in the continuous pursuit of knowledge. “There’s always new stuff to learn,” she said.

Peterson is not only a teacher but has the additional role of the science department chair. Taking on the role of department chair is filled with many moving parts as not only is Peterson managing teaching and her own students but helping to support an entire department of teachers. While she did have some leadership roles at her previous school, Naperville North, Peterson explained that it was “nothing to this scale”. Peterson has realized that this position is all about balance, to get to know each of the teachers in her department and how she can best support them. “The science department here has so much knowledge and experience,” said Peterson. She feels her role is, “just supporting them how I can and letting them do their thing because what they do is great.” 

Outside of teaching Peterson keeps busy. “I have an eight month old baby,” she shared with a smile. “He just started crawling, so most of my life is chasing him around.” In the summer she works for a test prep company and sometimes during the year she continues that work teaching some SAT prep classes or working on the material. She also is a dog owner, and her time at home is spent hanging out with her son and her bulldog and nephew. 

“It’s only been a month and a half but it’s been a great experience,” said Peterson in closing. “It’s just very warm and welcoming here.” Peterson brings with her a passion for science and her students that makes her a wonderful addition to the Glenbard South community. We are lucky to have a teacher so dedicated and passionate. 

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About the Contributor
Emma Pekkarinen
Emma Pekkarinen, Editor in Chief

My name is Emma Pekkarinen and I am a senior and one of the Co-Editors in Chief this year. When I’m not writing articles for The Independent you can find me reading, baking, or enjoying a walk outside. At South I also am a member of Speech Team and Model United Nations. 

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