Passion and Dedication
Byline: Sara Hooker firstname.lastname@example.org
After 30 years in education, Bertha Baillie still remembers the 3-year-old boy who could read anything.
Fascinated, she brought the tiny boy a medical journal and he spit out large, complicated medical terminology without hesitation. But he couldnAEt comprehend a word of it.
She spent a summer internship trying to help that boy learn and sheAEs spent a career living what he taught her.
Now those lessons and an energetic career teaching special education and kindergarten at Salt Creek Primary School in Elmhurst has led Baillie to become a Kohl McCormick finalist u one of the areaAEs most prestigious awards for early childhood education teachers.
Baillie, 54, of Aurora, says she accepts the recognition on behalf of all educators who have had that one student, or many students, who drive them.
"ItAEs a very challenging, very rewarding profession in that you get to learn from (students)," she said. "You canAEt do this job without knowing that youAEre learning a lot from your students, because theyAEre your teachers, too."
Baillie always knew she wanted to teach but never thought about teaching small children. Her experiences u growing up in Mexico, then Europe for a few years and finally in ChicagoAEs Hyde Park neighborhood u taught her to love diversity and learning. She imagined a career teaching archaeology and anthropology to high school or college students.
Baillie looks back to her summer interning at the University of Chicago Diagnostic Nursery while she was earning her bachelorAEs degree from Lawrence University in Appleton, Wis.
SheAEll always remember that little boy who could read but not understand.
"(I remember thinking) he obviously has broken the code of knowing how to read, but why doesnAEt he know what heAEs saying?" she said. "I remember being really struck and energized by the thought of maybe there is something I could do to help him understand what he was reading."
That experience led her to begin a career in 1979 at Salt Creek, teaching one of the areaAEs first courses geared toward children with autism. Her teaching position has evolved several times throughout the course of her career, from early childhood special needs to a full-day kindergarten teacher. …