She was born in Pana but grew up in West Chicago. She graduated from
Illinois State University with a degree in physical education and
taught junior high students in West Chicago for two years before
marrying and moving to Chrisman, where she taught at the high school
and coached basketball. Then she left teaching for eight years and
stayed home with two little girls. In order to give herself more
options, she returned to school and obtained an elementary teaching
After being hired as a teacher's aide, she later taught fourth
through sixth grades at the former Hartsburg Elementary School,
which has since been converted into apartments. When the elementary
school was moved to Emden, she was onboard and in 2004 was given the
designation of head teacher for the site, to give support to
teachers in the building and act as the superintendent's assistant,
since that person must split their time between two buildings in two
"I attended school in Catholic schools and we learned discipline
and took responsibility for ourselves," she said. "But teachers took
an interest in me and stretched my imagination. The reason I went
into teaching was because I wanted to be like those teachers."
Mrs. Batterton has expanded and varied her areas of interest but
was always teaching. She taught thinking and study skills and
physical education to first- through fourth-graders and reading to
third-grade students. She taught seventh-grade art, math and
reading. When a gifted program was created, she took the task to
heart and became the coordinator for the Please Let Us Soar program.
"The students learned a multitude of skills when we set up a
grocery store," she said with pride. "We even found a computer
program that would read UPC labels so they could create actual
receipts and keep inventory.
"They also had a bike rodeo," she continued, "and, unfortunately
we haven't done that project for a few years, but when we did, it
was lots of fun."
In 2004, the school developed a character-building program it
called Emden Cares. The program taught responsibility and
self-respect. It rewarded students and encouraged them to be good
people. Mrs. Batterton is proudest of such programs that bonded
teachers and students and gave the students a foundation for their
"Children like discipline and routine, to feel safe and
grounded," she said. "It guides them and gives them structure."
[to top of second column]
When discussing her life after retirement, Deb Batterton has a
lot of interests but will stay involved with the school. She enjoys
landscaping and would like to work in her yard. Her scrapbooking has
fallen behind, and she would like to put her pictures in order. Her
husband owns a business in Emden, and they are involved with
community activity. She intends to volunteer more but leave room for
herself and her family.
Their daughter, Kami, is a kindergarten teacher in La Grange. She
has Deb's only grandchild, Ian, who will now see his grandparents
more. Stacy, the Battertons' oldest daughter, works at State Farm,
and even though she is closer for visiting, a more open schedule
will allow for some additional time together.
And if Deb runs out of other things to do, there are those
"someday" items on her list -- snowmobiling in the Rockies and
riding a Segway through the Sonoma Valley. She is an out-of-doors
person and wants to ride four-wheelers and go canoeing. The daily
routine will be different, but the possibilities are endless.
"Change is good," she said, "I won't disappear. I won't
substitute, but I will be involved. I have always enjoyed doing
things with youth. It keeps you young."
She has been a Sunday school and Bible school teacher, a 4-H
leader, and ran programs for the West Chicago Park District. So,
more than likely, the school and the community of Emden will
continue to see a lot of Deb Batterton and benefit from her time and
[By MARLA BLAIR]
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