Press Release


True Learning, True Teaching Seminars provide free opportunity to study the “Literature of Nature” or “Reinterpretations of the Frontier Experience”

CHICAGO—After the tests are taken and grades assigned, how do Illinois’ best teachers spend their summer break? In class, with the Illinois Humanities Council (IHC), of course. This summer the IHC provided Illinois K-12 teachers the opportunity to take part in an intellectual retreat. The teachers—recently accepted into the IHC’s “True Learning, True Teaching Seminars” program—spent July 27-August 1 in one of two all-expenses paid, residential seminars at Starved Rock State Park in Utica, Illinois. The seminars offered were “Earth Words: The Literature of Nature” and “How the West Was Lost: Reinterpretations of the Frontier Experience.”

Created six years ago by the IHC, the “True Learning, True Teaching” program rewards the state’s finest teachers with opportunities for further learning and intellectual renewal. Each seminar contains a humanities focus, is interdisciplinary in scope, and is led by a prominent humanist scholar from a local college or university.

The following teachers were selected for the “True Learning, True Teaching” program:

Earth Words: The Literature of Nature:

Mr. Christopher Hunger, Fry School (Burbank)

Ms. Cynthia Brooms, Tilden Career Community Academy (Chicago)

Ms. Sherry Grutzius, Morgan Park Academy (Chicago)

Mr. Wayne Schimpff, Von Steuben Metro Science Center (Chicago)

Ms. Danielle Shullaw, Chicago Academy for the Arts (Chicago)

Ms. Cheryl Spraetz, Elgin Academy (Elgin)

Ms. Hilary Gansauer, Lincoln-Way East High School (Frankfort)

Ms. Laura Bruinsma, St. Paul’s Christian School (Monee)

Ms. Melissa Agar, Monmouth High School (Monmouth)

Ms. Suzanne Savard, Maine South High School (Park Ridge)

Ms. Jeralee Ciszek, St. Aloysius School (Springfield)

Megan Lantz, Pioneer Elementary School (West Chicago)

Ms. Allyson Thorne, McKenzie School (Wilmette)

How the West Was Lost: Reinterpretations of the Frontier Experience:

Mr. Robert Bartlett, Morton High School (Berwyn)

Ms. Margaret Mayes, Glenwood Intermediate School (Chatham)

Ms. Barbara Boucek, Curie High School (Chicago)

Ms. Beatrice Quatroke, Portage Park School (Chicago)

Ms. Carol Joiner, Meadowbrook Elementary School (Forrest)

Ms. Denise Mack, Hoffman Estates High School (Hoffman Estates)

Ms. Michele LaZier, Oakland High School (Oakland)

In addition to the Illinois teachers, several German teachers participated in these lectures. The German educators are participants in the IHC’s teacher exchange program. Later this month, select teachers from Illinois will travel to Germany to take part in an IHC coordinated, cross-cultural seminar on German-American relations.

Beyond providing intellectual renewal, the seminars provide a retreat atmosphere in which teachers from diverse academic backgrounds and disciplines can gain deeper insight into their profession. Tuition, lodging, meals, and program materials are provided by the IHC. Furthermore, though the seminars grow out of a belief in “learning for learning’s sake,” participants earn Continuing Education Units (CEUs).

For more information about the “True Learning, True Teaching” program, please contact Carole Cosimano or Clark Halker at 312.422.5580 or visit


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