Wednesday, June 08, 2011
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10th in a series of interviews with Logan County's retiring teachers

Carolyn Schreiber retiring from LCHS

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[June 08, 2011]  Getting off to a late start isn't always a bad thing. Just ask Carolyn Schreiber, who went back to college and started her teaching career at the age 40. It was a decision that came 20 years after she first attended college, and at a time when her family of four girls was in elementary school and junior high. The decision came after one big change. She had been the business manager for a research company. When the company decided to relocate, she found herself without a job but with an opportunity to do something different.

Carolyn grew up in Lincoln and graduated from Lincoln Community High School, where she was involved with theater. She attended Illinois State University, where she had majored in communications and minored in English. When she returned to college, it was to obtain her teaching certificate. Her first teaching position was at Williamsville, where she also was in charge of the theater productions.

A highlight in her first year of teaching was when the contest play she directed was chosen for state competition. She sat next to Barry Kantz, her English instructor from LCHS. He was also the dance and theater director and speech coach. It was a privilege to be competing with the person she had learned from, and he treated her not like a former student, but as an equal. She realized she had come to the right place when she had decided to teach and return to theater.

A year later she was chosen for a position at LCHS and began teaching English there, directing plays and coaching speech. Throughout her 24-year teaching career, she and her students went to state each year with contest plays. Winning a position at state competition is like being nominated for an Academy Award. It is a special acknowledgement in itself. Her plays garnered fourth place twice.

"You never knew how being involved with the theater is going to impact a student," Mrs. Schreiber said. "It encourages them to find a creative side they didn't know they had. One young man seemed to have no interest, but he tried. Now he lives in New York City and designs sets for the Metropolitan Opera and also created several for the television show, ‘Ugly Betty.' Another is in Hollywood and was a dancer in ‘Glee.'

"The first young man had to be coaxed to find something he might like to do with stage production," she remembers, "and after he realized he enjoyed and was capable of creating the backdrops and props, his whole personality changed."

"There are things that go on out here (at the high school) that no one knows about," she said. "My students presented a Halloween Spooktacular, a safety show for kindergarten through third-grade students. They didn't just perform on stage, but took their talent into the community."

Mrs. Schreiber has been involved with a variety of projects that incorporated reading and English skills. She taught Response to Intervention, a statewide reading program. In those classes, she instructed students on reading skills, vocabulary and word recognition.


"The RTI classes made a tremendous impact," she said. "It was the best thing the English department did since I came here. It tested the students' abilities and brought everything together."

Her time at LCHS has not been a one-way street. She will take memories and lessons learned from students and the experiences she shared with them.

"There is not one school year when I didn't learn something, whether it was in the classroom with students or during play productions," she said. "Something new came to the surface or was realized from working with the students."

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"I have been the head of the English department for several years, and I will miss this group," she said. "We are a close-knit bunch and work well together. Some departments don't have as many teachers as we do, and the variety lends to new ideas."

After retirement Carolyn would like to garden more. "It is therapeutic," she believes, "and you can get lost in your thoughts, away from everything else that is going on.

"I sing in Lambs, a choir at my church and sew blankets every week with the church ladies," she said when asked about her extracurricular activities. She would like to learn to play piano, and she would like to write about education.

Her husband, Steven, is retired from pharmacy management but teaches part time at Lincoln College. Even with his schedule, they will now have more time to go places, but they are content to be homebodies. There may be some short bus trips or day trips later. At home, Carolyn has intentions to straighten and clean nooks and crannies she hasn't had time for while working.

The Schreibers have four daughters, with two in the education field. Rebecca is the assistant principal at a high school in Naperville. Carrie, the youngest, actually taught English and coached speech and theater at LCHS for eight years. Now she is an Ag in the Classroom instructor. Jessica is the director for the state's oversight department for alcohol and drug counselors. Gretchen is a compliance consultant for Wells Fargo Home Mortgage.

"I have really enjoyed my time at LCHS," Carolyn said, "and I will miss the people and being involved with the students. But now I can do what I want to do, when I want to do it. I know there are things I haven't even thought of which will find their way into my life."


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