Remember that teacher you had in elementary school that you still talk about years later? A teacher who was always calm and comforting, who made school fun and interesting, and who cared about you and your success?
Tim Gapp of North Barrington Elementary School is one of those teachers.
Gapp has been teaching for 31 years and most of his experience has been as a kindergarten teacher at North Barrington. When he retires in 2015, he'll have helped mold the lives of thousands of children.
"I love working with kids. Always have. My mom always told me that I was going to be a teacher," Gapp said. "I really take it seriously the responsibility to have kids come in here, their first regular school experience, and have it be a positive one. I want them to look back on kindergarten and really have good memories."
Gapp received his sociology degree from Trinity College in Bannockburn. During college, Gapp spent time in a program called SubParenting, watching children for parents who went on vacation. That positive experience later lead to his studying for his teaching certification.
As Gapp plays his guitar in class, his students laugh as they dance and sing to such songs as "Shake Your Sillies Out" and "Hello! Hello!"
"I like to use whatever works. Even if it's a little bit different, as long as it's positive and has a positive impact. I'm really in favor of that," he said of his teaching philosophy. "For kids to develop as readers and writers they need to know how to rhyme. Singing and the songs that I sing are a part of that."
Last year, Gapp started a program of bringing iPads into the classroom at North Barrington after receiving funds from Barrington School District 220.
"The kids took to it like bees on honey. They just loved it," Gapp said. "It was easy for them to run and use, even if they hadn't had experience with it."
During class, kids take the iPads and scatter around the room, sitting on the floor or finding a corner to work in, and begin playing spelling games. Their eyes light up as a space craft hovers about and they spell out the objects that drop out of the ship.
North Barrington Elementary principal Diane Wood said Gapp really invests in his students and gives them a good start in their schooling.
"He's a wonderful teacher. He's very caring and very nurturing," she said. "He leaves his fingerprints on the hearts and souls of the children he teaches."