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Chicago Business Teacher Engages Students In Business Courses

Steve Penley is a business teacher at Waubonsie Valley High School – Indian Prairie School Dist. #204. Business courses at the high school level provides a variety of opportunities to assist in the development and application of critical thinking skills for young adults through an engaged Blended Learning Model. Penley teaches Business Management, Business Law and Consumer Economics (personal finance).

(Photo Courtesy of Steve Penley)

Penley received his undergraduate degree in business education and distributive education from Western Illinois University, Distributive education emphasizes workplace skills and internship programs for high school students. Penley also holds a Master's of Business Administration and a Certificate in Public School Administration K-12 from Keller Graduate School of Management.

What are the scope and responsibilities of your current role?

"I represent Waubonsie as a course leader for all three courses that I teach, collaborating with peers from the other two high schools in our district to develop curriculum and 'Best Practices' engaged learning efforts to improve student learning. I am involved in several district wide initiatives as a committee member developing plans for the integration of student growth models into the teacher evaluation process being mandated by the State of Illinois. This includes facilitating professional development for other teachers learning this process. I believe I need to model growth and change to students.This has become a central aspect for evolving my teaching style to incorporate Blended Learning models within the classroom.These models provide focused, individualized opportunities which address the diverse learning styles of each student."

What is your favorite part of your daily duties?

"[My favorite part is] 'setting the stage' each day, as I rearrange my room to fit the day's learning objective, [and] engaging the students as they discuss the information available and then listening to their dialogue as they create their own knowledge using those filters unique to each student."

Do you feel your education prepared you for your current role?

"Yes very much so. The M.B.A. helped quite a bit as I began this journey toward Blended Learning about 10-15 years ago (without realizing it). Interacting with professionals in the class room along with my own private sector experience helped me shape projects using inquiry-based strategies to have students apply their knowledge toward understanding and mastery."

Do you have any advice for people who desire to pursue a similar career?

"Engage with other professionals as much as possible. Don't limit yourself just to your field (education), but engage with professionals within your field of study (i.e.; science teachers with scientists). Continue to look for opportunities to transfer the results of those interactions into an engaged experience for your students."

Michelle Guilbeau is a writer, reviewer, teacher and business owner. She also has experience in school administration, literacy coaching and is proud founder of and Michelle enjoys sharing her knowledge of cities, food, travel, education and parenting issues with her readers. Her work can be found on


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