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Wildcat Chronicle

The student news site of West Chicago Community High School

Wildcat Chronicle

The student news site of West Chicago Community High School

Wildcat Chronicle

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Humans of WEGO: The creativity in creative writing

Tara Deleon is a teacher who knows how to welcome her students into her classroom, making her a much-loved teacher with a strong passion for what she does.
Photo by Alexa Morales
Tara Deleon walks the room during her creative writing class, offering help as needed.

“The Things They Carried” by Tim O’Brien. “The Tenth of December” by George Saunders. “Julius Caesar” by William Shakespeare. “The Scarlet Letter” by Nathaniel Hawthorne. 

All books beloved by the creative writing teacher, Tara Deleon.

At 22, Deleon had already set her sights on a teaching career, recognizing it as her calling in life. After college, she sought experience as a substitute teacher, further fueling her passion for the profession. Despite her mother’s skepticism, Deleon remained steadfast and pursued a graduate degree.

“When I was twenty-two and had just graduated college, I tried subbing to see if I wanted to teach. My very first day on the job, I had to go on a field trip with a rowdy bunch of sixth graders. I came home and told my mom that I knew I wanted to be a teacher after just one day. She couldn’t believe how ‘sold’ I was on the idea! A few weeks later, I enrolled in grad school to get my teaching certificate or also master’s degree,” Deleon said.

Deleon’s teaching style has garnered the admiration of many at West Chicago Community High School. She dedicates time both inside and outside the classroom to build strong relationships with every student. As a teacher, she places great emphasis on prioritizing her students and establishing a connection with them, effectively becoming a trusted friend in the classroom.

“She helps encourage creativity and will always do her best in making sure her classroom is a safe and supportive environment,” former student Betzy Eurioles (’23) said.

In school, she makes it a priority to know her classes well, while also ensuring that her students stay engaged through different weekly activities such as free writing, tranquil transcendent Tuesdays, and FriTunes. 

One of Deleon’s creative writing classes this semester. (Photo courtesy of Tara Deleon)

“Tara had a knack for finding strengths in each student that walked through her door. Students loved her because she helped them develop a sense of confidence in themselves,” former co-worker Patrice Dobry said.

Her commitment to creating a positive learning environment is helpful for students.

“Mrs. Deleon, Is a wonderful teacher who understands her students. She is also very happy all the time, with an amazing attitude towards everyone,” senior Julio Hernandez said.

Deleon’s dedication to education extends beyond the classroom as she leads the Creative Writing program in West Chicago after school hours. Through her guidance, she empowers others to find their voice and share their unique stories with the world.

“While I’ve never had her as a teacher, she is one of the most impactful teachers I have had the pleasure of knowing. She’s encouraging, amazing to be around, and always pushes for students to be better. Creative Writing club with her was amazing. Every time we met, she would encourage us to make our art, challenge us with new ideas and prompts. Creative writing holds some of my favorite memories from high school,” former student Vincent Ross (‘23) said.

Despite the setbacks caused by COVID, she remains hopeful that the club will bounce back. She sees encouraging signs that things are slowly but surely returning to normal.

“But I could see that spark came back, I could tell the audience liked it too and I was like, okay, here, we’re gonna make this happen,” Deleon said of the latest open mic night they have hosted.

When you think of a teacher, you think of someone who loves school and went through her schooling with a love for the things they are doing. Deleon completely fits the description of a school lover through and through.

“I always tell my students I’m like, clearly I love school. But I really did like an elementary absolutely adored school, I wanted to be like, really good at everything. Especially reading. So like, when we take reading tests, I was always like, very competitive,” Deleon said.

She loved the atmosphere of schools back in the day, beyond just the academic part. The busy hallways and the feeling of belonging among students and staff all contributed to her positive memories of school.

“There’s not a lot of drama. We had a really good time. So, back then – it was in the 90s – we loved grunge music. So it was a really good experience,” she said about her high school life.

Image of Tara Deleon and her husband when they were younger at a school dance (Photo courtesy of Tara Deleon)

She found herself greatly enjoying the projects and assignments she was given, yet still may not have pursued a career in English teaching.

“But I also love Spanish. And so actually for a while, I wanted to teach Spanish,” Deleon said.

She came back to English and did not go the Spanish route even with her passion for the topic. While residing in English, other options in the field caught her attention.

“I did think I wanted to be a writer. And I was considering journalism. So, when I went to college, I just majored in English writing,” Deleon said.

During her college years, despite facing various challenges, she persevered and eventually discovered her passion for Creative Writing at WEGO. Along the way, she learned valuable things from her own teachers. Today, she incorporates these lessons into her teaching approach and applies them to her interactions with students on a daily basis.

“You know in a piece of writing, you have to do A, B, and C, but you can write about anything you want to write about,” she said.

She loved college’s freedom, particularly because she did not have to follow a step-by-step process in completing assignments as she did in high school.

“He just gave us a lot of freedom. And I think that that was something I felt like we weren’t really given as much, you know, with essays and the formal writing,” Deleon said while talking about her last year of college.

Despite being heavily involved in various school activities as a teacher and a role model, she leads a fulfilling life outside of her professional duties. One of her greatest passions is traveling the world with her loving husband, and creating memories.

“And because I’ve been in Mexico many, many times, which I have a very big passion for, we’ve definitely explored Mexico a lot and seen family there,” Deleon said.

When she is not out exploring and hiking, she is at home tending to her lovely garden and making home-cooked meals with her spouse.

“I like spaghetti. Classic, basic. But he’ll make the sauce from scratch, like the meat sauce, and then meatballs as well. And those are amazing. That’s probably my favorite meal,” Deleon said.

Deleon and her husband in present day. Both are Chicago Bulls fans. (Photo courtesy of Tara Deleon)

After a good meal, you would see her outside tending to her beautiful garden she has spent so much time keeping in shape.

“And now, we moved into a house a year ago and we’ve never had a house before. So like I had my first big garden. It was pretty overwhelming. But I am obsessed with houseplants and especially like cacti and succulents. I have to rescue them if I see them at Home Depot,” Deleon said while talking about her gardening experience.

But if Deleon’s garden is anything like her classroom, it is bound to grow and bloom. Students and staff agree she has a knack for cultivating strong relationships and positive memories.

I would tell her thank you. Thank you for [the] chance to express myself through words. Thank you for a chance to make absolutely wonderful friends. Thank you for helping me find my love for poetry,” Ross said.

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Your donation will support the student journalists of West Chicago Community High School. Your contribution will help us cover our annual website hosting costs. We appreciate your support!

About the Contributors
Tyler Buikema
Tyler Buikema, Reporter
Tyler Buikema is going into the union for plumbing after finishing at West Chicago Community High School.  Tyler loves a challenge, whether that is in school, at the gym, or at work. He aspires to become a family man, with God included. Tyler is known as a great man with a great heart, but do not be fooled by his kindness: he will be the first to admit he does have a way with words, and a very loud mouth.
Alexa Morales
Alexa Morales, Features Editor
Although Alexa is a senior at WEGO, she is the captain of the dance team. Something unique about Alexa is that she was an exchange student in France for a week and a half last spring. Alexa's favorite music artist at the moment is Lana Del Rey. Looking ahead into her future, Alexa is planning to go to college to be a nurse.
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