Glenbard South English teacher urges students to take a fresh look at classic literature

High school English is about more than poetry and classic novels in Linette Chaloka’s classroom at Glenbard South High School in Glen Ellyn.

Instead, the class is about the opportunity to develop new ideas, take characters on the page and see the world through their eyes and relate to life as it is for teens today.

And that starts with Chaloka, a teacher who isn’t shy about taking a fresh look at a classic tale.

“She is someone who definitely comes alive whether she is in front of a whole class of students or working one-to-one with students,” said Sean Byrne, assistant principal of instruction at Glenbard South High School.

Chaloka was awarded the Educator of the Year for Glenbard Township High School District 87 from the Glen Ellyn Chamber of Commerce earlier this year in recognition of her dedication in the classroom and beyond. She has been teaching for 22 years. In addition to her role in the classroom, she has served as English department chair for the past eight years.

Chaloka grew up in the Chicago area and attended Northern Illinois University for her bachelor’s degree and Benedictine University for a master’s degree in education. She is working on her doctoral degree in educational leadership with a superintendency licensure from the University of St. Francis.

Byrne described Chaloka as a lifelong learner, and said that in the classroom she doesn’t hesitate to take a fresh new look at a classic piece.

“Linette is someone who is an expert, but also is open to learning and is willing to hear a new interpretation of the text,” Byrne said.

Along with her roles in the classroom and the English department, Chaloka serves as the assistant activities director, a role in which she supports student clubs and organizations. She can assist with a fundraiser or meet with students forming a new club.

“It’s so important for students to feel they are part of something larger,” Chaloka said. “It’s one of my favorite things. I love academics, I love teaching English, poetry, Shakespeare and novels. The whole experience of a student in high school is very important that they feel a sense of belonging.”

Growing up, Chaloka said, her parents instilled the value of education and how important education is as a vehicle to unlocking doors to one’s future. At the chamber’s recognition event, she was able to receive the accolades with her mother and her family on hand.

“I really appreciate it,” she said. “It was a true honor.”

Chaloka said it was that value of education and the ability to serve others that directed her to the field of teaching.

“Being a teacher was a calling that allows me to pursue my passion for academics and to give back and have a really meaningful career,” Chaloka said.