Learning Resource Coordinator and alumna Mrs. Grace (Lilek) David ’08 is entering her sixth school year as a Fenwick educator.
What is your educational background?
GD: I grew up in La Grange Park and attended St. Francis Xavier for grammar school and then Fenwick. My bachelor's degree is in history and secondary education from Marquette University. My master’s degree is in special education from Dominican University.
What did you do prior to becoming a teacher at Fenwick
GD: I have enjoyed the unique opportunity to work at not one, but two schools that I attended. Prior to working at Fenwick, I taught 7th and 8th grade social studies at St. Francis Xavier. I replaced the teacher who taught me in 7th and 8th grade. I also worked at a special-education and therapeutic day school for children on the Autism spectrum in Hoffman Estates.
What are you currently reading for enjoyment?
GD: I have not had much time this year to read for enjoyment, but I did just purchase In Conclusion, Don’t Worry About It by Lauren Graham (the actress from Gilmore Girls) and I am looking forward to reading it this summer.
What interests do you pursue outside of the classroom?
GD:Exercise is a very important activity in my life outside of school/work. For many years, I trained for and ran multiple half-marathons and two full marathons. I am currently an indoor spin instructor at The Dailey Method in La Grange. In addition, I am a Chicago Blackhawks fan, I enjoy cooking, I am a cantor at my parish, and I love to travel. My husband and I travel to Boston every summer for the 4th of July to celebrate and visit friends, and we typically take another trip to a new state or location every year.
To what teams and/or clubs did you belong as a student?
GD: I have always been interested in music and the arts. I started playing the flute at age six and began singing soon after that. I participated in musical theater, dance and band during grammar school. As a student at Fenwick, I was involved in 11 (out of 12) BFG productions including “Anything Goes,” Bye Bye Birdie,” “Beauty and the Beast” and “Footloose.” My most favorite and cherished memories from high school all took place on the auditorium stage. I was also a “stat girl” for the wrestling team my freshman and sophomore year; I participated in speech competitions with Mr. Arellano; and I was the Italian Club president my senior year. In college I participated in Best Buddies, a program that builds friendships between students and individuals with special needs. I was the events and activities chairperson, as well as a board member for the Marquette University chapter. This experience sparked my interest in working with individuals with special needs.
Which clubs/sports/activities do you run at Fenwick?
GD: Outside of my current work in Student Services, I am the Yearbook moderator. I also organize testing accommodations for students who qualify on the ACT and SAT.
What quality/characteristic marks a Fenwick student?
GD: We are blessed with a supportive community, and I truly believe this is why so many former students come back to work at Fenwick. I am continuously impressed by the resilience of our students, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our students have persevered through all of the obstacles that were thrown at them over the last 18 months and, most importantly, they have found new and unique ways to learn and have fun despite a lot of hardship. In addition to this, Fenwick students are passionate and well-rounded individuals. Many of our students excel in the classroom, on sports teams, in preaching their faith and in other extracurricular activities. Our students are multi-talented, and this is what makes Fenwick such a wonderful place. Finally, our students are kind to those around them; this is easily seen in how our students support one another in success and lift one another up after failure.
When did you decide to become a teacher, and why did you choose this field?
GD: I had several amazing teachers throughout my life. I was fortunate to have Mr. Groom during my junior and senior years at Fenwick. He taught history in an interesting way and made it very easy for me to learn and understand. History was always my favorite subject, but his welcoming, relatable and consistent approach to teaching is what ultimately inspired me to pursue a career in education.
What personal strengths do you find especially helpful in your teaching?
GD: My current work in Student Services has taken me out of the classroom, but many aspects of my teaching carry over into the work I do now with students who have special needs. Anyone who knows me will say I am organized, detail-oriented and always plan ahead. I am understanding and I try to look at multiple perspectives before making a decision. When I was a student, everything did not come easily to me and I had to work very hard to earn good grades. I believe my own experiences as a student have made me a better teacher and more aware of the unique needs and perspectives of the students with whom I work.
What are your favorite classes to teach?
GD: United States History was my favorite class to teach for many years, but more recently Psychology has become my favorite class to teach in the Social Studies Department.
What is the greatest success you have had in teaching?
GD: In my current role at Fenwick, I am able to get to know a small group of students really well over the course of their four years in high school. When these students earn a high grade, understand a difficult concept or overcome a certain hardship, it is a success that I happily celebrate with them.
What challenges face students today?
GD: Unlimited (and sometimes unrestricted) access to technology creates challenges for students today. Students are constantly connected to one another via texting and social media. I do not believe these interactions and situations create lasting, meaningful or supportive relationships. And the instant gratification that technology brings is not necessarily positive in terms of their growth and development into adulthood.