District 214 trains students to become teachers

On Jasmine Bautista's first day of school, she had a panic attack. The then-kindergartner felt like she didn't belong - she spoke little English and felt she didn't measure up to other students.

Today, after overcoming early obstacles and taking Northwest Suburban High School District 214's Education Career Pathway, the recent Elk Grove High School graduate is preparing to go to National Louis University on a four-year, full-tuition scholarship to become a special education elementary schoolteacher.

Bautista is so passionate about teaching that recently she was the guest speaker at District 214's Educator Prep Signing, a ceremony held each spring for all district students who plan to take education classes and sign a commitment to go into teaching.

"The reason I want to become a teacher is because I've had a lot of teachers who have motivated me," Bautista told the students. "My goal is to make my classroom every student's safe spot and impact my students' lives and education in tremendous ways like … D214 once did for me."

To help Bautista and other students achieve their goal of becoming teachers, District 214 offers the Education Pathway starting as early as ninth grade.

The program is designed to help students develop the skills and knowledge to become educators through a series of classes, as well as opportunities to observe and teach in different classroom environments.

District 214 schools taught education courses for several years and started a formal career pathway in 2014 when administrators realized the growing demand for teachers in the future - and a need for minority teachers who can identify with increasingly diverse classrooms.

As part of the pathway, the district created Educator Prep, which provides students with opportunities to earn dual credits through National Louis and Northeastern Illinois universities.

Students who complete the Educator Prep program and go on to study teaching at National Louis or Northeastern Illinois are guaranteed a student teaching position in the district or one of its partner schools, as well as a job interview when they graduate if the district has an opening in their area.

"It's so great that the district is recognizing the need for teachers and the importance of teachers - and how hard it is to be a teacher," said Rolling Meadows teacher Linda Thorson, who runs the district's Education Academy, an intensive, hands-on dual credit teaching course for seniors in the education pathway.

Students who qualify for the Education Academy teach in four different educational settings and take dual-credit teacher education courses with Thorson at Rolling Meadows.

Allie Ontaneda, a recent graduate of Rolling Meadows High School, said that Education Academy helped prepare her for the teaching career that she's dreamed about since she was young. She has learned to write lesson plans and teach them to students - a challenging but rewarding experience.

"This is the most difficult part of the class, but well worth it because of the experience and confidence we are building," she said.

This fall, Ontaneda will attend Carthage College in Kenosha, Wisconsin, to major in Spanish and minor in secondary education to become a high school Spanish teacher.

"I hope to return to District 214 to teach and give back to the community that helped me grow and find my purpose," she said.

Allie Ontaneda, left, and Jasmine Bautista, right, participated in District 214's education pathway and took the Education Academy course before they graduated in May. Courtesy of District 214

About this series, and how you can help

This story is part of a 16-week series looking at Northwest Suburban High School District 214's Career Pathways program.

To join District 214's Career Pathways effort as an internship host, career mentor or classroom speaker, contact Barb Kain in the Teaching and Learning Department, To support the program financially through a sponsorship, early career credentials or college credits for students, naming or other contribution, contact Erin Brooks with the District 214 Education Foundation,

Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the "flag" link in the lower-right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.