BY CAROL ROEHM
---- — DANVILLE — Even after 33 years of teaching, Diane Rew said she still is elated when a youngster in her preschool classroom has an “ah-ha” moment.
“To see children learning and to see their faces light up when they get something ... I still get goose bumps,” she said. “That’s got to be the best moment as a teacher.”
Rew, whose classroom is at Southwest Elementary School, will retire at the end of the school year next month.
Reflecting back over more than three decades of teaching, Rew notes that “a lot of things have changed . . . for the positive.”
During her tenure, Rew said she has seen increased demands and more responsibilities placed on teachers and has witnessed children’s learning styles change, not to mention the technological advances and changes in curriculum over that time span.
“The expectations are higher,” she said. “There is an increase in responsibility on teachers and students, both.
“Children are more technological,” she observed, adding that because of the instantaneous nature of computers and smart phones, children “expect a lot of feedback.”
Rew has taught children as young as 3 years old as part of District 118’s Preschool for All program.
“In preschool, we have some 3 year olds who will be here for two years,” she said.
Through the use of puppets and games, Rew teaches the youngsters how to write their name and to become familiar with the names of different colors. Three decades ago, those would have been considered advanced skills for a 3-year-old child and best taught a few years later.
“What’s being taught now are things that weren’t being taught until kindergarten or first grade,” she said. “We get the children ready for kindergarten.”
Rew said she was “excited” and looking forward to retirement but added that she would miss the youngsters and her peers.
“They wear me out some days, but they’re worth every minute,” she said of the children. “These are my babies. We, as teachers, become a part of them.
“I’m definitely excited about retirement, too. It’s a new chapter,” Rew said. “I have two wonderful grandchildren, and I want to be able to pick up a book and read it, and do some traveling with my husband.”
She also is considering a career change and is interested in training to become a phlebotomist.
“I have the patience, and I love to talk to people,” she said of drawing blood as a profession.
Diane Rew Position: Preschool teacher at Southwest Elementary School Age: 56 Education: Graduate of Naperville Central High School; and bachelor's and master's degrees from Eastern Illinois University. Experience: Started teaching third grade at Fairchild School in 1981; taught kindergarten and first grade at Lincoln School; worked part-time tutoring homebound District 118 students while raising her son and daughter; opened a new prekindergarten classroom and became screening coordinator the following year at McKinley School; served as Title I family involvement coordinator for District 118 for seven years; preschool coordinator for seven years; and preschool teacher for four years.