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District 215 hosts closing ceremony for third annual Future Teacher Summer Academy

19 students participated in third annual program


LANSING, Ill. (August 5, 2023) – On August 3, the third annual Future Teacher Summer Academy ended with a closing ceremony recognizing students and staff involved in the program.

Building Future Teachers

The participants of this year's Future Teacher Summer Academy. (Photo: Quinton R. Arthur)
The participants of this year’s Future Teacher Summer Academy. (Photo: Quinton R. Arthur)

Wendy Bivins and Susan Lessner-Diversey, coordinators for the program, led the ceremony and shared a welcome address. John Robinzine, the recently appointed Interim Superintendent of District 215 shared opening remarks. 

“Just seeing this program grow and provide an opportunity for students to get the necessary knowledge about their career pathway right before they leave high school is phenomenal,” said Robinzine. 

The program takes place over the summer, where students participated in various seminar lessons, such as the Labor Movement, Mindfulness, and STEAM, and others. Students then became teachers for the Bridge program, where they taught lessons with the guidance of teachers at both TF South and TF North.

The cooperating teachers at TF South were Tim Cocco, Ericka Johnson-Jones, Pam Leonard, and Erik Perez. The cooperating teachers at TF North were Bianca Gomez, Centrese McGee, Sheri Murawski, Shanwell Posely, Jennifer Ramos, Aaron Richmond, Sam Rosell, and Mychael Webb. 

A lesson on identity

Rising sophomore Shekinah Ogedegbe and rising senior Masturah Raheemson taught a lesson on identity. The lesson focused on the definition of identity and examples of it.

The lesson ended by watching a few minutes of a TED Talk by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie entitled, “The Danger of a Single Story.”

The key takeaways from the lesson were that students and others have multiple identities, and it is up to educators to see the student through each one.

Program highlights

During the next part of the ceremony, two participants of the program shared their reflections.

Mariyah Reed, a rising junior, was thankful to the dedication of the staff in developing the students. 

“This program, and the main people who were responsible, not only are the ones who helped me find my future endeavors, but have also helped me find my life’s passion,” said Reed. 

Charles Prude, a 2023 graduate of TF North and three-time participant in the program, recalled three lessons including teaching for passion, the importance of in-the-class experience, and the influence that teachers have. 

“The teaching profession is the mother to all professions,” said Prude. 

The students who participated in this year’s program are: Stephanie Allen, Kamisiyochi (Kamsi) Anene, Chikanyima (Nina) Anene, Favor Babatunde, Dorian Correa, Aayla Holiday, Makeela James, Morgan Kleidon, Bianca Loera, Kenan Maxey, Shekinah Ogedegbe, Enoh Okpubigho, Charles Prude, Masturah Raheemson, Mariyah Reed, Vivica Rivera, Mia Robison Ángel Sánchez, and Ariyanna Smith.

(From L to R): Scholarship Award Recipients Charles Prude, Makeela James, and Mia Robinson. (Photo: Quinton R. Arthur)
From left, scholarship award recipients Charles Prude, Makeela James, and Mia Robinson. (Photo: Quinton R. Arthur)

Joseph Stephan, President of Local 683, presented scholarships to students. The scholarship recipients were Charles Prude, Makeela James and Mia Robinson. 

“We wanted to work collaboratively with our district and with our board of education to help provide an environment where we could nurture the young people who wanted to become educators,” said Stephan. 

Thornton Fractional Federation of Teachers Local 683 represents the certified staff members of District 215.

Closing remarks

The event ended with a fun interactive story led by rising junior Favor Babatunde. There were small tokens placed on each table. As the story was read, every time the word “right” or “left” was heard, attendees had to pass the token in that direction. 

TF South Principal Jake Gourley shared closing remarks. He shared a story on how the encouragement of a teacher when he was younger still remains relevant.

“Teachers make a difference. You make a difference. I am so grateful to a district that supports this program,” he said.

Students who are interested in being a part of the Future Teachers Club during the school year can email Mrs. Bivens at [email protected]


Quinton R. Arthur
Quinton R. Arthur
Quinton received his Bachelor of Arts in English from Northern Illinois University and his Master of Science in Journalism from Roosevelt University. In addition to reporting for The Lansing Journal and the Homewood-Flossmoor Chronicle, he volunteers with 100 Black Men of Chicago, Metropolitan Board of the Chicago Urban League, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Burst Into Books, and various other organizations. A south suburban resident since 2004, Quinton is passionate about telling the unsung stories of the community.