When Morgan Allgeyer was in the fifth grade she wanted to be a dolphin trainer when she grew up.
She changed her mind eventually, as kids do, and for a while she thought being a personal bodyguard could be a good way to earn a living.
But when it came time to pick a professional path, Allgeyer chose teacher -- just like her mother, her father, a grandmother, an aunt and an uncle.
"By the time I was in high school, I knew I wanted to teach," said Allgeyer, a fifth-grade teacher at Wauconda Grade School. "I think that a large part of this desire came from seeing the satisfaction (they) received from teaching."
All in the family
Allgeyer is the third member of her family to teach in Wauconda Unit School District 118. Her mother, Robin Murray, is a physical education teacher at Robert Crown Elementary and has worked in the district for 24 years.
Her paternal grandmother, Doris Aimers-Voss, taught for 32 years at Wauconda Grade School and Wauconda Middle School.
And let's give an honorable mention to maternal grandmother Geraldine Murray, who was a secretary at Wauconda High School.
Allgeyer's father is a retired Palatine-Schaumburg High School District 211 teacher, while the paternal aunt and uncle taught in Minnesota.
"It's such a deep part of who we are that I can't imagine doing anything else," said Allgeyer, 33, of Libertyville.
Murray was confident her daughter would be a good teacher.
"Her work ethic, dedication and ability to connect with kids made her a perfect candidate for teaching," she said.
Allgeyer began her career as a teaching assistant at Hawthorn North Elementary in Vernon Hills, working in a kindergarten classroom and with English language learners in the fourth and fifth grades.
She jumped to Wauconda Grade School 10 years ago, initially working as a fourth-grade teacher. After three years at that level, she was bumped up to the fifth grade.
"Fifth grade is the best grade," she said. "Fifth-graders are at a turning point in their lives. They are in between childhood and adolescence, figuring out who they are and who they want to be."
Allgeyer adores her students' enthusiasm and energy.
"They love to learn and crave information," she said. "They will give their all to projects or games."
And games are an important part of Allgeyer's classroom curriculum. She includes as many as she can -- as well as problem-solving and hands-on activities -- to ensure learning is fun for the kids.
Allgeyer is proud to be influencing her young students' lives in ways they'll take through middle school and high school. She loves getting visited by former students and hearing how they're doing.
"The fifth-graders I've taught are so unique with their different interests, talents and experiences," she said.
A principal's praise
Wauconda Grade School Principal Debra Monroe praises Allgeyer for recognizing each student's uniqueness and accepting their thoughts and feelings. And it goes beyond the kids in her classroom.
"(She) inherently harbors the wonderful ability to make not only her own students, but others, feel valued, cherished, appreciated and loved," Monroe said.
Monroe isn't surprised Allgeyer has carried on her family's teaching tradition.
"I can only imagine the pride that Doris and Robin have for Morgan's educational accomplishments and the legacy that she continues to advance, day in and day out," she said.
Ask Aimers-Voss about her granddaughter, and that pride is obvious.
"She brings her smile and energy into the classroom," Aimers-Voss said. "Anyone can stop at her fifth-grade door and see the children engaged in learning. They catch her spirit."
A special experience
Working in the same district as her mother -- and the same district where her grandmother taught -- has been a special experience for Allgeyer.
"I've had the pleasure of teaching students whose parents were taught by my grandma," she said. "Someday I bet I'll be teaching children whose parents were taught by my mom."
Allgeyer admits there's some extra pressure on the job because of that family history, but she relishes it.
"I'm proud to be compared to such passionate, talented and dedicated women," she said.