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#PREPpeople: Kevin Correa
Posted 06/07/2018 11:24AM

One in an occasional series of snapshots spotlighting the people of the St. John’s Prep campus

Middle School English and social studies teacher Kevin CorreaHOMETOWN: Chicago, Illinois

EDUCATION: M.A., energy and environmental analysis, Boston University (2012); B.A., anthropology, Harvard (1996); Diploma, Loyola Academy, Illinois (1992)

YEARS AT ST. JOHN’S: 3

SUBJECT: Grade 6 English/Social Studies

FUN FACT: “I get asked once or twice a week by new people I meet: ‘What ethnicity are you?’ I’m half Irish and half Filipino. My dad finished medical school in 1963, came to the U.S. and did a fellowship at the University of Illinois at Chicago. That’s where he met my mother. My dad’s dad was a diplomat of the Philippines.”

DESCRIBE A TEACHER WHO INSPIRED YOU GROWING UP: “I had a bunch, but I’ll settle on a guy named Paul Stanley. He taught religious studies at Loyola Academy. He’s the first teacher I recall taking an interest in students’ lives outside of school. That always stuck with me. I started a practice right of the gate here at St. John’s. On Mondays, we take five minutes and I have each student relate one anecdote from the weekend. I think this practice builds that relationship between me and the students. And in the sixth grade, especially, it helps them understand the common bonds they share. It makes my job that much easier because we form that level of relationship. It even comes into play when you’re giving extra help—I’ll say, ‘You love mountain biking, why don’t you write about that?’ I do this not necessarily because of Mr. Stanley, but I appreciated it back then as a student, so I do it now.”

WHAT MADE YOU WANT TO TEACH FOR A LIVING?: “I’d always known—even going back to high school and peer tutoring—that I enjoyed that interaction of the lightbulb going off. That ‘ah-ha’ connection you share when you’re teaching someone who suddenly understands. I always knew I would eventually teach, I just didn’t know where or when. It turned out that I went down that road sooner than I thought. I knew what the Prep was all about before I got here. I had friends in college who graduated from here. It sounded like a very similar experience to my own at Loyola, which was really important for me.

WHAT EXPERIENCE OUTSIDE OF ST. JOHN’S INFORMS YOUR WORK WITH STUDENTS AT THE PREP?: “What jumps to mind was the opportunity I had in college to work abroad with the Kenya Wildlife Service at Lake Nakuru National Park. In addition to sparking my interest in my fields of study, it really informed my worldview of what inequality means and how fortunate I was just being born to a certain family. In the classroom, I’m constantly reminding the boys how lucky they are because they really did win the birth lottery by being born to the families they belong to. I try to get them to recognize the sacrifices their parents are making to send them here. I’m aware of how fortunate I’ve been, so I think it’s important for students to recognize their good fortune, appreciate it and appreciate the sacrifice others have made and continue to make for them.”

WHAT DO YOU LOVE THE MOST ABOUT WORKING WITH YOUNG PEOPLE EVERY DAY?: “Working with the youngest kids at this school, I find they have this genuine curiosity about the world around them. At that age, it’s still OK to ask questions and be enthusiastic about it. We’re always relating the topics in class to the world outside and current events. We take the time to talk about that, and it’s enjoyable. Even if I don’t have my ‘A game,’ I know I have to get on top of it when I arrive here every day. They have no filter. They’re going to let you know if you’re off your game. I make sure to check everything else at the door, and walk in and give them my best every day.”

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