Name: Colin Wehman
Position: Physical education instructor at McKenzie and Central elementary schools
Hometown: Park Ridge, IL
Education: Bachelor’s in Physical Education with a minor in Health Education from Indiana University. Certified to teach kindergarten through grade 12.
Teaching Background: Wehman spent two years teaching in Niles Township High School District 219, where he also coached cross country, basketball, and track and field. This year, he’ll coach football in the Niles district, as well.
What inspired you to become an educator?
“I think a combination of things. I have a lot of role models and strong influences in my life that were teachers or coaches. Both of my parents are teachers. My dad is a music teacher. My mom is a college professor. My grandpa was a physical education teacher and high school basketball coach. So strong family influences and also my experiences with teachers that I’ve had in the past lead me to think, when I first entered college, that this would be a good profession. A meaningful profession. I was really happy with the decision I made, dove into the education field, had a couple of really positive coaching and student teaching experiences. I really don’t think there is anything else I’d rather do. Teaching physical education is good, too, because I’ve always been attracted to athletics and sports. So being able to help these students out is kind of a dream come true. So far, so good.”
What attracted you to District 39?
“At the end of last year I applied for this open position in Wilmette due to the fact that there was no longer a job in the Niles district... Being from the Chicagoland area and knowing a little bit about the North Shore, I knew [Wilmette] was a great community. I knew that there was a lot of strong family support. I knew the school system was strong. I knew there was a lot of opportunity for mentorship and growth with a lot of teachers who are really highly qualified. So for me, being a young teacher still, that was a positive thing. I think I kind of got lucky with landing a job in such a great district, but if there was a job opening on the South Side of Chicago, I was applying for it last year. It was also a matter of where I got interviews and where I got opportunities.”
How would you describe your teaching technique?
“One of my strengths right now is being at an age where I still feel youthful. I bring a lot of energy to the table and I participate with the students. Being moving and active helps with motivation. It really gets the students into what they’re doing and excited about it. That’s a little bit easier at the elementary level than the high school level, because the students want to be there. But I also think that my strategy and philosophy is based on relationships. It’s just trying to get to know my students as well as possible, get to know their families, get to know what they’re into, and through that, I find ways to help direct my teaching. It allows me to figure out what student needs help with this and what student needs help with that. And figure out ways to get through to them. There a lot of students with different ability levels. So being able to come up with different activities and different strategies that are going to serve every students need is something I try to do.”
Do you have any special program that you plan on implementing or a notable, upcoming project?
“This year, McKenzie went to having a program outsource all of the afterschool and before-school clubs. It used to be that teachers ran different clubs. But one cool thing, it is still in the works and I haven’t even brought it to the administration yet, but a couple of other teachers and I are trying to put together a committee to organize a family 5k [five-kilometer run] fundraiser to take place this spring. We haven’t figured out what charity we’re going to donate money to, yet. But especially with Wilmette being such a big running community, that is something that I’m trying to launch and take a leadership role with.”
How have you liked your time in District 39 so far?
“It has been great. It has been really positive. If I ever have a question or need help getting started here, between the veteran teachers here, the secretaries, the administration, the assistant principal, the principal, it has been really good. It has been really good at both school, because you know it is kind of tough when you’re traveling to both schools and getting a feel for how different places work and operate. The kids have been great, too. I’ve met a lot of good kids who are a pleasure to work with every day. I’ve also gotten in touch with certain parents already, who are really helpful. I’m very pleased with it. I’m just hoping to keep learning and hoping for a good rest of the school year.”