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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

Humans of WEGO: The mark of a great teacher

Nancy Blume is retiring from teaching this spring, but the legacy she leaves behind will not soon be forgotten.
CTE teachers Nancy Blume and Mia Worth attend Homecoming together in September 2023. (Photo courtesy of Nancy Blume)

From teaching her dolls to teaching actual students, Nancy Blume has left her mark in the world of education. Best known for helming the Consumer Ed classes, Blume has decided to step down and retire from teaching at the end of this year. She is looking forward to moving on to new adventures that she wants to pursue.

Blume got into teaching after wanting to become an accounting major, but after three or four classes, she came to a realization that she wanted to make a switch, and pursued education. Blume herself thinks that is where she got into teaching, 

“But my mom tells me that I would teach my dolls when I was little. So I think I wanted to be a teacher from the time I was little,” Blume said. 

Blume in her first (kindergarten) and last year of education. (Photos courtesy of Nancy Blume)

Over the many years that Blume has dedicated her time at West Chicago Community High School, she has taught several subjects within the Career and Technical Education (CTE) department.  

“So I’ve taught computer classes, and I’ve taught work programs, and I’ve taught consumer education, and I’ve taught investments. So I think just the fact that I’ve been versatile enough to be able to teach all those different kinds of classes has been a huge accomplishment for me,” Blume said.

And with all of these classes that Blume has taught, Consumer Ed and investments are a standout. 

“I love teaching Consumer Ed, because it’s so applicable. Because you guys can use it right away all the time. But I also love the passion of my investment students, because even though I don’t know as much, they get really excited about the stock market game and learning about investing,” Blume said.

For her students, Consumer Ed is a class that allows Blume’s teaching abilities to really shine.

“She is a super informative teacher. She helped me pass the class with a great grade,” Nathan Mruk, who graduated in 2024, said.

Blume enjoys knowing that the education students received in Consumer Ed is applicable in the real world.

“The knowledge that they have about the different consumer and investing topics that I’ve taught them in the classroom. I think just watching young people use the information in their own lives has been really exciting,” Blume said.

Blume will be missed by staff and students alike. 

“I have worked with Ms. Blume for 24 years and she has been a great mentor, advisor and friend to me. She loves teaching, and I am the teacher I am today because of her. I am going to miss her wisdom, quick wit and smile,” CTE teacher Mia Wirth said.

Blume celebrates her nephew’s graduation. (Photo courtesy of Nancy Blume)

Likewise, Don Zabelin, who worked with Blume for over 20 years, and has known her for 30, recalls her being “a caring person that will do anything to help a colleague.” He considers himself fortunate to have worked with Blume.

Nancy is an extremely dedicated and passionate teacher, who cares deeply about her students. [She is] an outstanding teacher that will go to any length to help a student succeed,” Zabelin said.

The two used to co-advise West Chicago Community High School’s Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) chapter, which has since been replaced by Business Professionals of America (BPA).

“Nancy was great at motivating students for competition, and helped our WeGo chapter win the Illinois Chapter of the Year award. Some of the students have continued to stay in touch with Nancy due to the special impact Nancy provided them,” Zabelin said.

In fact, one of those individuals is Matt Shambo, former FBLA President and a 2003 WEGO grad. His earliest memory of Blume is learning to type on a keyboard in her word processing class, but he remembers going to the state competition – and even a national competition – under her advisement.

Her guidance was highly instrumental to my success in serving as a two-time President of Future Business Leaders of America ( FBLA) and achieving Business Student of the Year in 2003. Today, I fondly recall how dedicated she was to our chapters success, oftentimes spending extra time supporting new ways to increase membership, providing ideas for development opportunities and preparing us to compete in events,” Shambo said.

Blume works to recruit students for the Lifesmarts team at West Chicago Community High School. (Photo courtesy of Nancy Blume)

Those sentiments were echoed by other former students, including Joseph Valliquette, who graduated in 2019. He also took several classes with Blume throughout his high school tenure.

“The lessons Miss Blume taught continue to be apart of my life as an adult. My ability to save and invest is a direct consequence of my one semester of investments with Miss Blume,” Valliquette said. 

Now, with Blume’s teaching career coming to a close, she is looking forward to exploring her interests in retirement.

“I’m not planning to sub. And right now, I just want to have some time to be able to pursue things that I haven’t had time to do in the past like garden and spend time with friends that are retired and do some house projects on my house that I’ve been putting off because I just don’t have time to do it,” Blume said.

Blume wants to settle down and focus on other activities that make her happy. 

During Blume’s teaching career, like most educators, she had a few struggles with COVID, and even just trying to keep students engaged, in general.

“I’d say early in my career, it was probably learning how to manage my classroom, how to get students to be engaged, and what to do when students were not engaged. I mean, COVID was tough. That’s probably the go-to answer. But those years were really hard, just for obvious reasons,” Blume said

The ups and downs do not take away from the fact she has enjoyed teaching these past 34 years.

“On the day I retire, I think there’s going to be tears because I’ve spent 34 years here. So initially, it’s just going to be, ‘Okay, what do I do now? I’ve never done anything except come here.’ And I’ve loved my time with my students here and my friends on the faculty. But I am very excited about being retired, and figuring out what’s next. I kind of feel like I’m a senior in high school again, figuring out what I’m going to do next. And it’s a little scary, but super exciting, too,” Blume said

As of now, a typical day of Blume’s life revolves a lot around school-related activities and responsibilities, but she looks forward to being more active in retirement.

“I come here every morning, and I grade papers, and I plan lessons. I guess when I leave here, I’ll be in physical therapy, trying to do more walking and exercising. Hanging out with friends when I can,” Blume said.

There are a few pet peeves, picked up after teaching over 30 years,that Blume will not miss in retirement.

Fun fact: Blume loves decorating Christmas trees, and has a number of themed trees that she sets up at her house each year, including this one, which is snowflake themed. (Photo courtesy of Nancy Blume)

“It’s always bothered me when students line up at the door because it makes me feel like you can’t wait to get out of my classroom. And I know that’s probably not anyone’s intent,” Blume said.

With Blume’s teaching career coming to a close, Blume feels accomplished with what she has done during her time teaching at West Chicago Community High School

“I’ve taught a ton of different classes. I’ve been involved in student organizations. I’ve led seminars. I was a division head for a few years. And I’ve been in administration. So yeah, I feel like I’ve done everything that I would have wanted to do in my career if I was, you know, if I was looking at it from the time I was 20, or 22. Yeah, I think I have accomplished what I wanted to accomplish,” Blume said.

Perhaps Blume is downplaying the essential role that she has played at WEGO. There can be no doubt she has left an indelible mark on the school and its community.

“The legacy that Nancy has left at WeGo is that of a teacher who always put her students first, and a teacher that took great pride in seeing her students do well,” Zabelin said.

Those sentiments were echoed by current CTE division chair Marc Wolfe.

“It’s so rare for a teacher to stay in one school for their entire career, and Nancy has done that here and made a huge impact on students and her fellow colleagues.  She was always willing to teach a new class, try a new teaching strategy, and share new ideas with other teachers.  She is the epitome of a professional teacher, and will be missed,” Wolfe said.

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Aidan Ostapa
Aidan Ostapa, Reporter
Aidan Ostapa is someone who enjoys spending his time watching basketball and sometimes playing golf. As a result, Aidan has developed a baller personality through his athletic experience. He is not just about sports, though: Aidan also enjoys some leisure writing time in English class when it comes to analyzing books and putting his thoughts into paper. Whenever he is not moving around, he jams out with his dog while listening to Quadeca. Aidan’s dedication to Quadeca is unmatched, followed only by his future prospects as a Wildcat Chronicle reporter.   
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