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Graduation 2014: Kaneland’s Thelander finds time working with kids to be rewarding

Kaneland senior Jordan Thelander is involved in the school's early childhood program.
Kaneland senior Jordan Thelander is involved in the school's early childhood program.

MAPLE PARK – Although she was smiling, happy to talk about the time she spends with preschool-age children during the early morning hours, Jordan Thelander confessed that she wouldn’t be described as a morning person.

“I’m not an early riser,” she said. “I do not like mornings, but it’s worth it to work with the kids.”

The Kaneland High School senior said she knew early in life that she’d want to be a teacher. Her mother remembers that, at age 9, she pitched in as a “mother’s helper” for friends, and she said her daughter “kind of gets fought over as a tutor and a baby-sitter.” She wakes up early to arrive at 6:45 a.m. at the Fox Valley Career Center, on the Kaneland campus, to work at its Small World Learning Center.

“She’s always been saying, since she was little, ‘I’m going to be a teacher,’ ” said her mother, Denise Thelander. “It’s never changed.”

The Kane County Chronicle this week is highlighting local high school graduating seniors. Kaneland’s graduation is set for 4 p.m. June 1 at the Northern Illinois University Convocation Center.

Jordan Thelander is headed to Missouri State, and she is going to study to become a teacher. But her mother said the family was a bit taken aback when she said she would be aiming to become a high school Spanish teacher, rather than pursue a career in early childhood.

“My husband and I said the same thing, when she said she wanted to be a high school teacher – are you sure?” Denise Thelander said. “She said, ‘I really think that’s where I’ll do the most good.’ ”

Jordan Thelander explained she has taken four years of Spanish and hopes to major in Spanish education. She added she is president of Kaneland’s Spanish Club, as well as the Future Educators Association.

Other honors she noted included membership in the National Honor Society and the National Technical Honor Society. She placed in a Skills USA state competition in the early childhood category.

Brenda Renaud, an early childhood teacher in the Fox Valley Career Center and the director of the Small World Learning Center, said Jordan Thelander works with children from six weeks to 5 years old and helps plan developmentally appropriate experiences for the youths.

“She’s a hard worker,” Renaud said. “She’s dedicated, and she’s quite the involved young lady.”

Jordan Thelander described busy days there, including duties such as laundry, doing dishes and preparing cribs for babies. She helps put toys away and helps with lesson plans. She said the experience has helped her understand what teachers face, understanding that there are more students than teachers and learning how to adjust when time spent planning “something perfect” can go awry.

It’s most rewarding, she said, when she sees the youngsters grow to toddlers and can see their development from a very young age. She said some of her peers wonder why she does it, but she said there is much she enjoys.

“Some of my friends think I’m crazy,” she said. “They ask, why do you get up so early? But I get to work with the kids.”

Know more

The Kane County Chronicle continues its annual series this week, profiling graduating seniors from local high schools. This year, we also are providing updates on graduates we have previously featured.

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