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Junior Journalist Update from Lincoln Prairie – By Sophia S.

“Teaching is, by far, the greatest profession in the world. It is the profession that helps create all other professions. It is not a job, it is a calling.” This is a quote that is exemplified by Mr. Samuel Natrop, a Humanities teacher at Lincoln Prairie for sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade students.

Teachers are a part of everyday life for kids in School District 54. They are the ones who teach you the day’s lesson, give you homework, and grade your tests. It is, in our eyes, a job. Not particularly out of the ordinary for us students. But when someone takes this job and pursues it with as much passion and drive as Mr. Natrop, you get something special. He touches the hearts of all his students, and helps them grow — as students, as learners, as people.

“He has helped me become a better writer and he has helped me to make connections when reading,” says Kyla, an eighth-grade student in Mr. Natrop’s homeroom and Humanities class. “He makes the classroom a safe environment where I feel comfortable to share my opinion in class.”

A typical day in morning Humanities includes a 30-minute discussion on the latest shared reading topic. Many people, including Kyla, contribute to these sessions, but none more than Mr. Natrop. He encourages us to talk and debate over topics, to ask questions and explore new perspectives. This method of teaching helps those that are participating to learn in a deeper, more meaningful way. This is just one of the many things that makes Mr. Natrop an extraordinary teacher.

One of the key ways that Mr. Natrop makes a difference is working with the sixth-graders to help with their transition into middle school.

“He has helped me by pushing back due dates of some things for the class, so I feel less stressed out. He also reminds me to not procrastinate,” says Nathan, a sixth-grader in Mr. Natrop’s homeroom. “He is a great writing teacher, and had helped me out a lot with my writing.”

Mr. Natrop is always willing to read and edit student writing before the due date, offering extra support. He thoroughly explains each assignment and is flexible with due dates based on the work we complete in class. He also offers different ways to connect with students, allowing for meetings during study hall or answering emails over the weekend.  In fact, he and I had a few email exchanges over this past series of snow days, which allowed me to stay on top of my school work. From giving us all the help we need to thrive in class, to encouraging student conversations in a social setting, Mr. Natrop fulfills the 54 Promise every single day.

“I treat each interaction as an opportunity to change a mind or change a life. In District 54, we are charged with learning each student by ‘name and need.’ Who are they and what do they need to be successful?” Mr. Natrop said. “I remember each and every day that I am entrusted with the well-being of another parent’s most precious gift: their child. That is not something I take lightly. I employ the philosophy of an old sports quote when I say, ‘Be the kind of teacher you want your own children to have.’ Someone who accepts you, loves you, worries about you, cares about you, and inspires you to be your best.”

As a student of his, I can honestly say that I will remember my experiences in his classroom for years to come. I have learned so much in his class. He has inspired me to become a better learner, and he constantly pushes me past my limits in writing. But the effects of his teachings don’t just lie in the classroom. I feel more confident in sharing my opinions with people, because it was in his classroom where I first broke out of my shy, timid sixth-grade shell. He knew my name, and knew what I needed.

Mr. Natrop is known for offering a meaningful quote at the bottom of every email he sends.  This may be something inspirational, or something that inspires a reader to think. So in my opinion there is no better way to end this article than with a direct quote from this phenomenal teacher to other teachers.

“Just remember another old phrase: ‘They probably won’t remember what you taught them, but they’ll absolutely remember how you made them feel.’ I try to do this by instilling confidence and celebrating the small victories, which then can be built into larger triumphs,” Mr. Natrop said. “I am honest with students. I laugh with students. I listen to students. I challenge my students. I hold them accountable for their actions. And I never give up on them, even if they’ve given up on themselves.”

Everything we do in District 54 is to fulfill the 54 Promise to ensure student success academically, socially and emotionally. We believe every child deserves to be healthy, safe, engaged, supported and challenged. For their March article we asked our Junior Journalists to write about a staff member who is fulfilling the 54 Promise.