Former Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar Julie Ahern spoke at the Rotary CLub of Winnetka-Northfield in July 2013. She shared how her Rotary experience changed her life for the better, and led her to a fulfilling career as an acclaimed teacher at an arts oriented charter school in Waukegan IL. Julie also shared how she has utilized Donors Choose and other contests to raise funds for supplies for her classroom and students.
July 25, 2013
YOU SHOULD BE A TEACHER!
Growing up my grandmother shared incredible stories about teaching
in a one room school house in Norway, Iowa. It was her responsibility
to light the fire every morning and greet the children of all ages
waving a large school bell in the air. A lot has changed since then….
During high school I worked at a local restaurant as a waitress
and enjoyed the experience.
A high school counselor told me about University of
Wisconsin-Stout and it’s Hotel and Restaurant major, so off I
During my senior year I decided I’d rather work in the back of
the house rather than the front, so applied to NIU-Dekalb to
begin a Masters program in Marketing and Finance.
GOING A DIFFERENT PATH!
I was very excited to be hired as a graduate teaching assistant
in the management department. There were 4 of us, all from
different countries, hired to keep office hours and grade
papers. This quickly changed!
My first experiences with teaching were unexpected and
dramatic to say the least…The professor takes a leave of
absence and the four of us are asked to teach the course!
After the initial shock wore off, I really enjoyed teaching 200+
young freshman Basic Management 101 students. :-D
GRADUATE TEACHER ASSISTANT
After a long day of teaching, going to two classes I planned on
going to the library to finish a paper due the next day.
However, for some reason I decided to go back to my
I just made the city bus, a ride that would change the course
of my life… There was a newspaper on the bus seat and I saw
an ad stating, “study abroad, all expenses paid!” However the
meeting was that night –so I just stayed on the bus and
returned to campus!
A CHANCE BUS RIDE CHANGED MY LIFE
Twenty or so young people showed up to the first meeting. We
learned that the Dekalb Rotary Club was sponsoring a
Foundation Scholarship to study abroad for one year.
We were told that the application experience would take up to a year
and involve numerous interviews and applications to be completed.
Some attendees walked out after hearing this news…
ROTARY FOUNDATION APPLICATION
After a full year of interviews and applications the happy news
arrived in the mail that I would receive a Rotary Foundation
Fellowship to study Tourism at the University of Surrey -
Rotary member Tony Jenkins met me at Heathrow Airport.
A member was assigned to watch over me each month and
provide an outing/adventures: meeting royalty,
galas at castles, family meals,
Christmas with the University president!
THE NEWS ARRIVES IN THE MAIL…
Princess Diana visits the Royal Surrey School for the Blind
Please click the link above to see the visit where a Rotary
member arranged for me to see Princess Diana!
INCREDIBLE EXPERIENCES BEGIN!
REGIONAL AND WEST END THEATRE
Theatre experiences were incredible with a regional theatre in Guildford.
As students we saw scores of quality productions before they hit the West
End. Such stars as: Anthony Hopkins, Rex Harrison, Diana Rigg, Deborah
Kerr, Ian Carmichael, Tim Curry, Richard Harris, Rupert Evert, Alan Bates…
Let me tell you about my Richard Harris and John Malkovich experiences!
PAVAROTTI SINGS IN HYDE PARK
Hyde Park suffered major storm damage and
Pavarotti performed a benefit concert for all. It
rained….no one seemed to mind! Please click
link below to see a song from the concert I
Nessun Dorma -Turnadot
STUDENT TRAVEL CARDS ARE THE
England, Scotland, W
ales, Ireland, France,
k, Germany, Switzerla
nd, Austria, Italy, Gree
Reluctantly, I headed home after fours years abroad as the
Home Office would not renew my student visa anymore…
Once home I took on odd jobs as I looked for something in my
field. Then I saw an ad to substitute teach in my hometown.
It turned into something that I really and truly enjoyed doing.
A friend told me of a fast track teacher license option and in
one year I received my teaching certificate. I ended up getting
a job teaching at Andrew Cooke Magnet School of the Fine
HOME TO THE STATES ALMOST
FOUR YEARS LATER!
COOKE PARENT/COOKE TEACHER
DAUGHTERS –SOPHIE AND EMMA
First contest effort was with collecting signatures/autographs
for a school year for Sharpie School supplies. What happened
with this contest was incredible!! We won nine $5,000 school
Since the Sharpie win my passion has been completing other
contests and going after grants for our students. We have
received: technology, materials, author visits, cash funds, and
so much more. Six years later my running total is $111,089.
My current mission is to pass on these skills to other
AND SO IT BEGINS WITH
GRANTS AND CONTESTS!
My current DonorsChoose project! link
Next Jump supports Cooke DonorsChoose projects! Short film
USING MY MARKETING BACKGROUND
ABC Cooke School Pepsi Commercial
Links to commercials made about our
NBC Cooke School Pepsi commercial
Eight students of mine have won
national contests in the last 3
years, including author visits from Mike
Thaler and Dav Pilkey. Love their
Gabriela won two contests. What a talented student she is!!
Pentel had a contest for students to write their
representatives about school concerns. Jazzmyn won this
national contest and $2,000 worth of school supplies. Our
class invited our state rep. to hear the letter read and she
came for a visit! (bottom right)
-My daughters met one of their favorite authors, Mike Thaler. Cooke student
Henry’s amazing artistic talents won our school two author visits. The second
visit was from the wildly popular Captain Underpants author, Dav Pilkey.
-Congressman Dold sponsored a Community Leadership Award. It was a great
honor to be one of the finalist.
Please consider supporting my current DonorsChoose project
with a small donation (link below). DonorsChoose is an
excellent opportunity to directly impact students in a
Chase: Learning About Civil Rights In Our Classroom! Part 2
Mrs. Ahern's Technology project at Andrew Cooke Magnet Elem Sch in
Waukegan, IL | High Poverty
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