Dancing towards her dreams

Stephanie Naumowicz talks all about how she achieved her goal of becoming a high school teacher and assistant dance director.

Stephanie Naumowicz is one of the new English teachers and also the new Orchesis Dance Company Assistant Director. As an ISU graduate, Naumowicz participated in a lot throughout her high school and college years that taught her how to be a strong leader and helped her achieve her goal of becoming a teacher. On top of her passion for teaching, Naumowicz was also a dedicated dancer throughout high school and college, and will continue to use her dance talents, knowledge and teaching skills as the new Orchesis assistant director.

Since you have been teaching here for a little over a month now, so far, what do you love about BHS and what do you think makes it unique from any other school?

I will say, I just love the atmosphere and the environment and kids, and it’s just really good energy here at BHS. I’m always happy when I’m here, and I come into work every day with a smile on my face. What makes it different, I think, is just the individuality and the creativity of the students. Everyone expresses themselves how they want to, and I think that’s really great.

Overall, what was your college experience like?

I went to Illinois State University for college, and I have a couple of different passions under me. So, I am actually able to teach English at the high school level, I can teach health at the high school level and I can teach dance at the high school level. This year I’m focused mostly in the English department, and then I help out after school with Orchesis.
I have nothing but good things to say about Illinois State University; I was really involved. Outside of classes, I was in a couple of registered student organizations. I was involved in Dance Association, which was for students, and by students. We ran the [dance] shows and we got to pick which student choreography was in the shows. Also within the College of Fine Arts, I worked in the Dean’s office. So, I got to oversee and also attend all the events that occured [within Fine Arts].
Last but not least, I was Greek affiliated in college, so I joined Gamma Delta my freshman year, and by my junior year, I was on executive council. My senior year, I actually took over and I was president of Gamma Delta. It was a chapter of about 150 members… so quite a couple of people to check in on. I do really reflect highly upon my time at ISU, and I still have my friends that I met on the very first day.

With the Dance Association, did you choreograph more or were you more on the business side of things?

I liked to do a little bit of everything, but I was mainly a performer. So, at ISU they have Dance Theater, which is run by the faculty. I was a part of that my freshmen year to my senior year, and I did eight seasons total. I had my performance through that, and then I also did a little bit of choreography, mostly through the student-run performances. But, I think my favorite part of dance is the teaching aspect. Choreographing is a lot of creative pressure put on an individual, and dancing is a lot of performance endurance put on an individual, and teaching is that happy medium where you get to kind of watch from the sidelines. You still get elements of choreography and performance, but for the most part it’s what you put into your students that is a reflection of you, and I find that to be the most satisfying.

Did you dance in high school as well? What made you want to dance in college?

In high school I went to Fremd… I sometimes have to say that one under my breath. But, my freshmen year I was on Orchesis there, and then by my sophomore year the sponsor of Orchesis was shifting, and a lot of things were shifting around, so I ended up being the only returning member [of Orchesis]. Keep in mind, it was a smaller program too; it was less than 20 [dancers]. So it was just me, and the new sponsor sat me down and she looked at me and was like, alright so you want to make Orchesis be a thing, then we can make it a thing, but it’s up to you. I was like, I can do this. So, for my sophomore, junior and senior year I was president of Orchesis. We stayed and built it up, and [Orchesis] is still running today [at Fremd]. I think what really helped solidify my decision to continue dancing was because I was so into it in high school.

What was your process of getting your job here at Barrington, and what made you decide to teach here?

Interestingly enough, Barrington has always been on the radar for me because I went to Fremd and I know of the area, and I’ve always looked at it as an end goal. I thought that it would be a really great high school to end up at. I really liked the fact that Barrington is a community district, so by that, all of [the kids from Barrington] go to the same high school. I thought that it would be really cool to have an experience where from when you step in the door in first grade, you know where that end goal is.
Barrington came up on my radar for Orchesis specifically, because I knew about how Nancy [former Orchesis director] was going to be retiring, and I knew Katelyn [new Orchesis director] well from ISU. So, I knew that was coming up and I was pretty excited about it. Katelyn approached me and said that they had posted the job, so go ahead and apply for it, and then we had the moment of Katelyn receiving artistic director, and I was able to move in as her assistant director, and then I was considering subbing at Barrington initially. But then by luck, an English position opened up and I was able to jump in!

As an English teacher, has English always been your favorite subject?

I came in freshman year, and I was the kid that hated English class. But, because of my teachers and the way that they were able to teach English and structure it, made me feel powerful by the end of my high school journey. I realized that I’d been looking down upon English, when in actuality it is everything that I stand for because I’m really into creativity, self expression, and individuality. In my mind, English class is meant to be like your time to express yourself, and realize the impact that your words can have.

As the new assistant director of Orchesis, what are you most excited about for helping direct Orchesis?

So many things. I’m really excited to see it all come together; I think that is the most satisfying part when you start day one, and you know who’s choreographing what piece so you kind of have an idea, and then you get to watch the whole process. So, every week, you’re adding on, and then you put the costumes on and that’s a whole other layer, and then you put lighting and the stage, and it really starts to come together. I think that tech week is probably the most exciting time because it starts to feel real, and it’s nice to take a step back and think back to that very first day.

This doesn’t have to be related to teaching or dance, but is there someone specific in your life that has been a big inspiration to you?

I think that most of the time it’s those that I surround myself with that really inspire me, and it’s inspiring to see women be successful and powerful. I think that I am really drawn to watching women do what they do best. Be powerful about it. Be determined. Be successful. In high school I remember, I would know the answer and wouldn’t want to raise my hand, and I’ve noticed in my classes that a lot of the time, the boys are the loud ones in class, whether it be good or bad, but they’re usually the loud and vocal voices. I think that as a girl sitting in those chairs, it was nice and inspiring to see a female teacher who was really confident and loud. My mom, my friends and just watching everyone be successful is what inspires me and makes me want to continue to learn and grow.