Rachel Spolum poses for a picture at her desk
Credit: Michael Klein, 42Fifty

You may not have heard of her, but Ms. Rachel Spolum is already making a significant impact on her students in her short amount of time here at Oswego High School. Ms. Spolum is a history teacher here at OHS and also coaches softball for a middle school.

Ms. Spolum, like many young students, always wanted to be a teacher growing up. Ms. Spolum started her college education at a school not so far from Oswego.

“I went to North Central College for history and Special Education,” Ms. Spolum said.

She also received an endorsement in Special Education from Quincy University. Ms. Spolum has taught here at OHS for three years now and previously taught at Prairie Ridge High School in Crystal Lake, Ill. When Ms. Spolum first came to OHS, she was nervous, but she knew she was in good hands.

“I knew a couple of teachers here already, so I knew that the staff was great. I knew that the kids were great, so I was excited to be here,” Ms. Spolum said.

Ms. Spolum teaches Success Lab, AP U.S. History and U.S. History this year, and will also be teaching the Decades class next year. Ms. Spolum is very passionate about her main subject: history. This passion comes from an early experience she had in a history class as a student.

“I had a history teacher that was really good, so I decided that that was something I wanted to look into, and I became interested in it,” Ms. Spolum said.

This experience with her teacher is the reason she is teaching history to us today. She loves history and understands the importance of it in our curriculum. 

“It is teaching you about your past. You don’t know where you are going if you don’t understand where you came from,” Ms. Spolum said.

Her personal favorite history topics would be the Civil Rights Movement and the Civil War. Ms. Spolum loves the fact that she gets to teach the thing she loves the most for a living. She is happy with the way her career panned out, and she is doing the job she loves.

“I really like U.S. history, I wanted to become a teacher to teach it, so I’m pretty happy with where I’m at right now,” Ms. Spolum said. 

Students also agree that she is a very fun, spirited, and positive teacher. “She is always happy and has fun while teaching. She tells a lot of jokes and makes the class really fun,” junior Ryan Winters, a student in Ms. Spolum’s U.S. History class, said.

U.S. history is very important to Ms. Spolum, and so is trust. She feels that if there is no connection between the teacher and student, then it is difficult for the student to learn.

“I think the best thing a teacher can do is to make sure that their students feel comfortable in the classroom and feel that they can trust their teacher,” Ms. Spolum said.

With the trust between the teacher and the student, Ms. Spolum believes that learning will come with ease. Ms. Spolum uses different teaching techniques to help her students learn. Trying to relate history to modern-day issues is tough for Ms. Spolum, but she believes it is good for the students to have a reference to help understand better.

“I think that breaking down tasks really helps students understand new concepts better. I also like to try to relate what I am teaching to my students’ interests,” Ms. Spolum said.

Another student of Ms. Spolum is Kyle McClernon. He is a junior here at OHS and is also taking a U.S. History class. He believes that her teaching style gives him the information he needs while keeping it interesting.

“I’ve learned a lot from the class, and it was very fun,” McClernon said.

All teachers do not like to see students struggle with the material, but it does happen sometimes. Ms. Spolum wants to use a strategy that she believes will help the student realize the information that they already know.

“If a student is struggling with new material, I start by asking them to explain what they know. Usually, students know a lot more than they think they do,” Ms. Spolum said.

Winters also believes that her teaching method sets every student up for success. He and many other students think that she brings many methods of learning to the table because many students learn in different ways. He believes that her teaching style is beneficial for him and the entire class.

“I like how she can give us the information we need while not making it boring. Also, videos really help me because I think I learn better visually, and we watch a lot of them,” Winters said.

Outside of high school, Ms. Spolum coaches a Wasco girls’ softball team. She also enjoys hanging out with friends and family and loves to work out. Ms. Spolum enjoys teaching her students and sees herself staying with this career for the long haul.

“I see myself getting really old and being that old lady teacher with a cane still teaching. Yeah, I see myself doing this for a very long time,” Ms. Spolum said.

Ms. Spolum loves what she does here at OHS, and that helps her impact her students that she teaches. Her bright spirit brings a smile to everyone’s face, and the positivity is what motivates her to keep going. She is looking forward to the many years to come and the many lives she will touch teaching history here at OHS. She hopes that everyone will learn the importance of history and love it as much as she does.

“You don’t know where you are going if you don’t understand where you came from, so I think history is one of the most important subjects because it teaches you about why things are the way they are,” Ms. Spolum said.

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