After 10 years in the Mahomet-Seymour School District and more than 30 years in the public education system, Mary Weaver, Director of Curriculum and Instruction is retiring at the end of June.
Weaver said that being a teacher was something she always wanted to pursue.
“I think I wanted to be a teacher since I was a kid,” she said as she recalled playing school with her sister.
“I had so many teachers who made me want to be a teacher,” she continued. “I went to a very small school so everybody in town knew the teachers. We spent a lot of time in the town together. Some of my teachers also taught my dad.”
Weaver began her teaching career at Garden Hills in Champaign where she taught 3rd, 4th, 1st and kindergarten. While teaching 5 and 6-year old children, Weaver enjoyed watching the children gain confidence.
“I liked watching the kids come in with not a lot of skills, then walking out so confidently and starting to read,” she said.
But, for Weaver, teaching kindergarten was also about building relationships.
“I think it’s true that everything you learn in life, you learn in kindergarten,” she said. “You work on how you treat people and how you want people to treat each other. I think I could apply a lot of the things I did while working with kindergarteners to the rest of my work.”
As she went back to school to get her Master’s Degree in educational leadership in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s.
“I knew I wanted to become a principal at that point,” she said. “I thought I could impact more people at that level than in a teaching environment.”
Although Weaver missed being in the classroom, she took her first job as a principal in a small school district where she could be on-site and in the classroom more and at recess every day.
“And it was at a time in education where there wasn’t as much bureaucracy, that consumes principals now,” Weaver said. “I also think being a teacher I understood the impact decisions made at the administration level had on the classroom. When I was trying to make decisions that affected the classroom, I looked at them from the teacher’s perspective.”
Weaver accepted a job as principal at Lincoln Trail Elementary ten years ago, then became the Director of Instruction for the district five years ago. It was still the idea of impacting a large group of people while also balancing the State-mandated education changes with the education of students that drew her to the job.
“I think I still carried the belief that I could still impact more people at the next level up,” she said. “I also think I had opinions or ideas of how we could implement things that we were required to implement with keeping in mind the impact on kids and the students and I wanted to be part of that.”
“I hoped to apply common sense to decision making,” she continued. “And I believe within the constraints of the State, I tried to stick to that. The requirements that we’re asking schools and teachers to do have been extremely excessive.”
Weaver said the 2016-2017 school year was the first year within the last five that the district was not required to implement a new initiative or mandate.
“I think that has been a very positive thing for this position, for the teachers and for the kids,” she said. I’m optimistic that as we are moving forward our focus on teaching and kids and instruction can be the priority.”
Weaver said despite all the changes with funding and curriculum, she has enjoyed being a part of the Mahomet-Seymour School District.
“I think that community and parent support is wonderful in this district.” she said. “We are so fortunate to be able to do the things we do because of that support.”
Weaver said she plans to do work as a volunteer, spend time with her children who are getting married this summer and perhaps pursue her dream of working as a caterer or a baker.