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Teacher Feature: How a life of travel made Prigodich who she is today

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Ms. Beth Prigodich is a national board-certified teacher and WE club sponsor for Oswego High School. She has been teaching for a total of 28 years, with 26 years here at OHS. As a young child, Prigodich lived in many environments and learned the values she applies to her teaching today. 

One of the many parts in her story that makes her who she is is her faith and the environment her parents raised her in. 

Growing Up

“My parents were missionaries, so I definitely grew up in a Christian environment, so my faith is very important to me,” Prigodich says. “If I hadn’t have grown up that way, I would not have probably that same kind of worldview that I have now.”

Because of her parents’ mission trips, Prigodich lived in many different environments. She began her journey in Uganda, where they were under the regime of Idi Amin.

“We weren’t exactly welcome in Uganda for very long, so we eventually got kicked out,” Prigodich says. “Then, we moved to Nairobi, Kenya. , I lived in Nirboni until the middle of fourth grade.” 

For the next three and a half years, she lived in Petronilla, Philippines. In eighth grade, she moved to Colorado, where she graduated from Denver Christian High School.

Prigodich noticed quite a difference in the mindset of people in the United States versus all of the places she had lived in.

“When I first came to the United States on a more permanent basis…I was pretty shocked on how materialistic people in the US were,” Prigodich says. “I didn’t really agree with that perspective on that life because I grew up in primarily third world countries where people had very little.”

In the past, Prigodich had lived where the people were grateful for the little things, whereas, in America, the people were full of materialism and lack of appreciation. 

“It really impacted my understanding of how we are really blessed with what we have and that we should share those things with other people,” Prigodich says.

Growing up with an abundance of travel built Prigodich into the person she is today. 

“I also just really value other cultures and the way that other people think about things, Prigodich says. “When I consider just living in the United States, I definitely would not be as well-rounded of a person as I am now [was] if not for the fact that I grew up in a variety of different places.” 

Prigodich carries these values with her and applies them to all areas of her life. 

“I think it’s really important to help people from situations where maybe they don’t have all of the resources that we have and to keep an open mind to the perspectives that other people have and where they’re coming from because you just don’t know what somebody else’s story is until you actually talk to them…if we just live in our own bubbles it limits [our] understanding of the world,” Prigodich says. 

Becoming a Teacher

Later in life, Prigodich struggled to make herself at home by being social and finding ways to reach out to the strangers around her.

“Because I moved around so much, I was really trying to figure out ‘where do I fit in?’ ‘how do I make friends?’ …Even though I’m an extroverted person, I’m still shy in situations where I don’t know people very well, so I had to learn to actually reach out to other people and be willing to put myself in situations where I could start to build those relationships with people and make new friends,” Prigodich says.

Prigodich learned these social skills necessary to become a teacher. Though she had to step out of her comfort zone, she bettered herself and opened up to those around her. She realized how much she enjoyed helping others and began one of her biggest impacts on the school: the WE club. 

By partnering with WE and Education First (EF) tours for an Ecuador trip, Prigodich and other advisors worked in a WE village supporting the community until it was strong enough to hold itself up. When they came back, the teachers came together and decided to make OHS a WE school. This began one of the most impactful clubs we have at OHS. 

“It’s a wonderful opportunity for students to not only build leadership skills but to help other people both locally and globally and grow in their own understanding of the world and how we can truly all work and live as a community,” Prigodich says. 

By living a life surrounded by many different people and perspectives, Prigodich brings OHS together by honoring our differences in views. 

“[Y]ou just don’t know what somebody else’s story is until you actually talk to them…if we just live in our own bubbles it limits your understanding of the world.” 

– Beth Prigodich
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My name is Trinity Heard, I am a Senior at Oswego High School, and this is my second year writing for 42Fifty. I am very excited to continue working with the team and help other learn more about journalism. In my free time, I enjoy spending time with friends and family, baking, and editing. I also am a part of the Student Council as President and work as a crew member at Culvers. I look forward to being involved in 42Fifty as a managing editor for this year.

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