Once a Pirate, always a Pirate

January 29, 2018

“Working at the school I went to in the past is kind of awesome, to see the teachers you had, the students you have now is really cool and maybe one day I will have one of my students joining the faculty,” Consumer Science teacher Emily Pilguy said.

Many of the staff here have graduated from Palatine, and Emily Pilguy is no exception. She graduated from the class of 2010. She was involved in various activities at the school between poms and joining clubs. Pilguy found her passion at a young age and always wanted to pursue teaching. Now she is apart of the consumers science area teaching kids how to grow as students and prepare for real life events.

Being a Pirate has inspired many alumni because of the connections formed in the classroom. The school is more than an expectation to go to class. If has formed a family and a major role apart of it is the generation of students bonding together an experience like no other. With various age gaps, teachers at Palatine High School have learned how to teach with their own experiences of being a student at Palatine.

An educator has the unique and special responsibility of helping to develop and mold the lives of students. Teaching should be something you love to do, as opposed to being just a job. Students appreciate a teacher with a passion for their subject, as this passion is infectious and makes students more receptive to what is being taught.

The teachers create a challenging, yet welcoming classroom environment, maintaining high standards and expectations for all of their students regardless of differing learning styles or backgrounds.

Their job is to counsel students, help them learn how to use their knowledge and integrate it into their lives so they will be valuable member of society. Teachers are encouraged to really tune into how each individual student learns, and try to really challenge and inspire them to learn.

“Honestly I think I stood out between the other applicants because I knew the school so well, it really helped in the interview process because I could relate to the surroundings and connect with students,” Brent Fisher of the English department said.

Some teachers enter the profession because they’re eager to make a difference, people tend to remember their teachers for an entire lifetime, long after school is over.

Brent Fisher was another graduate of Palatine in 2010. He went on to pursue his education and Illinois State University. Fisher majored in English education and now is a second year member in the English department.

Interviewing Counselor Jennifer Grapenthin

Every day of a teaching life, educators face wildly varying challenges. But all of that hard work pays off in a very rewarding way, the impact they have on the students can last a lifetime.

“I got involved in the preschool program and started interning for classes, I think that is what really sparked my passion for wanting to become an educator.” Pilguy said. “As well as teach at the high school age because I feel as if I could connect with the students.”

Others are inspired by a teacher earlier in their education who had a positive impact on them. A teacher may be seen as a leader, a mentor, or even a surrogate parental figure.

Many students at Palatine have shown interest themselves going into the teaching field because of the impact their own teachers have left on them.

“I never thought I would want to go into the teaching field,” senior Danielle Minogue said. “But after a few years of being at Palatine I really made good connection with my teachers and now am planning on majoring in secondary education because of them.”

Some former students have been on staff at Palatine for years. They have been a part of the family for decades and know what changes has been made in the system.

“In 1977 this building opened,” Counselor Jennifer Grapenthin said. “I attended the old school on Wood Street. We didn’t have an east gym and had to go back to the old school to use the track to watch footballs game and other sports.”

Being introduced to the special connection with Palatine, she really knew that it was her second home. Being able to come back to the school she attended became a plan of hers shortly after graduating.

Grapenthin has worked at Palatine for 24 years. The student body has made an impact on Grapenthin ever since she started working here. She knows what the environment is like and what it mean to be a teacher at Palatine.

It also inspires the next generation.

“Depending on where I end up in my future, I can see myself teaching at Palatine if I had the opportunity to,” senior Tiffany Steigerwald said. “I plan on majoring in English, and the teachers from the English department have impacted my life so greatly, I would hope to be able to be able to be an impactful teacher myself.”

Although standing in front of the classroom is a huge part of a teacher’s responsibilities, it extends far beyond that into the lives of their students, their students’ families and their community.

“When teaching at Palatine we ask two different types of questions for our candidates,” Principal Gary Steiger said. “The department chair would ask about their area of teaching to make sure they knew the curriculum, and I would try to ask about the person and how they would impact the school.”

Being a principal for 16 years really helps Steiger see how students engage in hands-on and innovative classroom activities that necessitate critical thinking, skills and inspire a love of learning.

Our school is different from other school so that helps them teach their fellow faculty members that we are a family and that’s why I think so many return to Palatine”

— Principal Gary Steiger

Multiple interviews have shown that many young teachers take information away from old mentors and make it into something new, or keep it the same. It all depends on the negative or positive impact put on young educators today.

No one ever forgets a meaningful teacher who had an impact on their life. This is also a chance to indirectly slip in some positive qualities and strengths of your own that they’ve possessed as a result of this teacher’s guidance.

People who have gone to Palatine and graduated from the school have a different evaluations of it, they understand the environment. They were apart of clubs and sports so they are engaged and now are leading extracurricular activities to show the new generation what they have learned.

“Our school is different from other school so that helps them teach their fellow faculty members that we are a family and that’s why I think so many return to Palatine,” Steiger said.

Great teachers teach, and also do so much more. Great teachers motivate, inspire and lead. They interact with the community to affect positive change through students and themselves. Great teachers change lives. Great teachers do it all. Students can become a great teachers.

The following are 25 former PHS students who are now on the school’s staff: Mark Hibner, Alex Larson, James Schager, Cliff Watanuki, Adrienne Stewart, Brent Fisher, Erin Lindstrom Emily Pilguy, Joe Grzybek, Melissa Meagher, Sergio Lund, Amy Petricca, Jennifer Dahl, Nicole O’Keefe, Luke Skony, Mitch Tucker, Chris Bays, Dan Gavin, Ruth Allen, Chad Bobbit, Dan Collins, Peter Gavin, Aaron Morris, Jenny Grapenthin, Nicole Capalbo and Emily O’Neal

Joel Wood School to Palatine High School

Joel Wood School was purchased to build a high school. The high school had been in the grammar school since it was organized by Charles Cutting in 1875. The first class graduated in 1877, it was a two year length at that time. It was one of the four oldest suburban high schools and the first northwest of Chicago. The new building was built for 300 students on four acres, now the Village Hall and Park District. The first year, 125 students were enrolled. Cutting Hall was included in this building.

When the wooden Wood Street school building was outgrown, another lot was purchased on the same block and Ben Wenegar built a new brick school in 1912. This school was renamed the Joel Wood School This school was closed in 1979 and razed in 1983. Houses have been built on this school block.

Palatine High School was created in 1875, the first public high school in what are now the northwest suburbs of Chicago. Its operation was reorganized into a modern school district in 1914, and in 1928 the high school built its first dedicated school building. It served the entirety of Palatine Township as a public high school.

In the 1950s, rising enrollments due to suburban expansion and the baby boom caused many changes. Palatine High School’s district formally expanded to include Schaumburg Township, two additions were built in rapid succession, and additional school buildings were built in the southwest part of Palatine known as William Fremd High School and in Schaumburg, James B. Conant High School.

Interestingly enough the student distribution changed as Fremd served as a school for freshmen and sophomores while Palatine High School served juniors and seniors.

As time went on the current three-story facility was completed in 1977, and a second gymnasium was built in 1997.

In 2003 a new math and foreign language wing was built. This new three-story wing included 24 new classrooms and activity areas.

In the summer of 2009, Palatine’s Chic Anderson Stadium was installed with an artificial turf for nearly $1.5 million.

The school itself has gained an importance in the timeline of history and lives on with the events that are happening inside of the building. The generations of teachers who have taught since 1875 to now have become a part of the history of Palatine High School.

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