At Springer, we frequently hear colloquialisms to describe the reasons behind the overwhelmingly positive experiences of our students and their families.
“Secret sauce” or “magic” are two phrases that may seem out of place when describing a school, but at Springer, these phrases convey a very accurate picture of the environment often experienced here.
Today we'll peel back the curtain to reveal one of the main ingredients of our “secret sauce”.
I will easily admit that I think the main ingredient to Springer’s “secret sauce” is most definitely each individual that makes up our faculty and staff. Excitingly, this week's blog kicks off the launch of our monthly Springer Staff Spotlight. It's our way of recognizing those unsung heroes who bring their undeniable and unwavering commitment every day and who sprinkle the “magic” throughout this phenomenal organization.
I’m thrilled to introduce you to Middle School Director Kristy Ilg and share what I’ve learned about her as a person and what motivates her to be so dedicated to the Springer mission.
Like many who choose to enter education, Kristy was introduced to the field by teachers in her own family. Kristy credits her grandparents with partially influencing her choice of careers, explaining that both of her dad’s parents were teachers. But Kristy described an even more profound reason for wanting to become a teacher, which she attributes to an experience she had in the fifth grade. It was during a program in which she was chosen to help work with students in a self-contained special education classroom. Kristy was so impacted by the connection she was able to establish with a young boy that no other teacher could reach, she decided at that very moment she knew teaching was in her future. Many of us think we know what we want to be when we grow up, but for Kristy she was determined to fulfill this ambition.
It's commonly said that longevity is no longer an expectation in the workplace. Fortunately, this does not hold true for Kristy, who began her teaching career at Springer 17 years ago “straight out of grad school”. Her initial position as a lead teacher for first grade was, admittedly, a “bit of a challenge.” But not surprisingly, and true to her character, Kristy rose to the challenge and persevered to teach at the first grade level for another 5 years before transitioning to another position.
When asked what makes Springer so much different from any other school, Kristy was quick to say that “it’s a happy medium between general education and special education”, an aspect that is truly hard to find anywhere else. Kristy shared that she really liked being a classroom teacher, but more specifically, she enjoys working with students with special needs. Unsurprisingly, the students are her favorite thing about Springer, and although she is no longer a classroom teacher, Kristy shared that it’s the students and their success stories that inspires her most. She loves when our alumni come back to visit.
Before we ended our conversation, I asked Kristy to share her advice for both teachers and parents. To parents, Kristy would say “Don’t stop…keep going…you have that intuition” so keep advocating your child. To our young generation of teachers, Kristy shares some incredibly powerful advice to “try to find the joy in the children everyday…everyday will be different, so find that one glimmer of hope” that keeps you going. And, lastly, she shared a favorite quote to remember “every day may not be good, but there is good in every day.” This ever present quality of hope and positivity is what makes Kristy so valuable, admired, and loved by the Springer family.
In summarizing my time with Kristy, she emphasized that she doesn’t like talking about herself and that she is an incredibly private person. However, what should have only been a fifteen to twenty minute conversation easily turned into twice that amount of time as Kristy’s story just became a part of the relaxed conversation between two colleagues. Not surprisingly, when I asked Kristy what three words she thinks others would use to describe her, she was at a bit of a loss, so I gave her a little help. At the top of my list…Passionate is the first word that comes to mind but not to be outdone by Dedicated. Supportive. And finally, Student-centered.
Realizing Kristy’s commitment to excellence, it is my hope that my words do justice to telling her story and reveal one of many ingredients to Springer’s “secret sauce”.
Blogger Lisa Bruns, M.Ed., Special Education, shares her expertise of students with learning disabilities. As a special educator, she has expert knowledge of interventions and accommodations that students may need to succeed in and out of the classroom. If you have questions, please contact Center Director Lisa Bruns at l.