Brigid Clark: not-so new kid on the block


Photo by Brigid Clark

Brigid Clark joins other teachers at WEGO for a photo in the hallway.

By Carlos Espinoza, Reporter

Now in her second year at West Chicago Community High School, Brigid Clark is excited to be teaching in-person.

Two years ago, when Clark saw WEGO had an opening, she immediately applied. Hired during the 2020 pandemic, Clark had all her job interviews on Zoom, and did not meet any people until a couple days before school started. 

Clark with her parents at her graduation from Miami University in 2018. (Photo by Brigid Clark)

When asked about working at WEGO, she said, “Oh my gosh I love it, I’ve always heard good things about the community, and now that I’m actually part of it, I can really feel it.” Clark appreciates that her department is very helpful and supportive; her coworkers are there for her whenever she needs emotional support and advice. 

I had the opportunity to sit down with Clark on November 18 at 8:00 a.m. in her classroom. She was sitting at her desk, typing away on her laptop, patiently awaiting my arrival. When I walked in, the vibe was a little awkward, since we were both laughing and prepping for a not-so-professional interview. She also warned me that another student might interrupt the interview, but that the interruption would be quick. I opened up the interview, and learned Clark graduated from Miami University of Ohio in 2018. 

I asked Clark if history and social studies were her majors in college, and she explained that she always wanted to be a teacher, so she started studying special education in college, and loved the content area. Clark was involved in Best Buddies at Lincoln-Way East High School. Through the club, she was able to bond with students with special needs; they would hang out together, get ice cream, see movies, and participate in many other activities designed to combat the isolation that can sometimes affect people with disabilities. Clark loved being in the program, and was inspired to study (and ultimately minor in) special education in college.

Then, one of her history teachers talked to her into pivoting into social studies, and so she switched majors the first semester of college.

Clark loved the idea of studying and teaching history. She also enjoyed attending Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, which offered a beautiful campus where she made lifelong friends. Clark appreciated the community around the university, which featured good restaurants she frequented. 

Clark stands on the field at Guaranteed Rate Stadium on a trip with the Oak Lawn Park District Special Recreation Day Camp in 2019. (Photo by Brigid Clark)

Soon after finishing her degree, Clark started looking for teaching jobs, hoping to teach social studies. She worked in the Glenbard district for a couple years as a substitute teacher before finding her place at WEGO.

“I did like working at Glenbard, and the subbing was fine, but I just didn’t like how temporary it was, I wanted a real job where I could stay there a really long time,” said Clark. 

At this point, the anticipated student came in to speak to Clark about making up a test; however, the interruption broke the ice even further, so the interview felt smoother and more relaxed as it went on.

Clark’s  favorite time period in history was the civil rights movement; she was inspired by historical figures like Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rosa Parks, as well as other groups that took part in the movement for change, like the Native Americans and women’s rights groups.

If she could have dinner with one person, dead or alive, she would love to have dinner with Michelle Obama due to the fact that Obama has done so much, not only as a first lady, but even now, with the Obama administration out of office. Clark would like to know more about what Obama’s everyday life is like, including how much of it is publicized and how much of her life she can keep private. 

Clark addressed the rumor on whether she was teaching government next semester; she said, “I can confirm this rumor is true. I am teaching government next semester. I’m a little nervous because I know it’s a big program we’ve got going here, but I’ve been observing the government teachers this semester. I went to the committee hearing to watch that and see how it looks in action, so I’m really excited to get started.”

Clark with her younger brother at his graduation ceremony in 2019. (Photo by Brigid Clark)

She is most excited that the students take on the leadership roles in the government simulation, leading committee hearings, full sessions, and debates. Clark also acknowledge the unique nature of the class, which stands out from others.

Students agree that Clark is an inspirational Social Studies teacher.

Senior Jaylee Siu, who was in Clark’s class last year, said, “Personally, I think she was a great teacher. She is kind, and always available to help if you are struggling in her class. She made her class fun.”

“She’s a really great teacher. She’s always caring and helpful. She always makes sure you’re okay personally and schoolwork wise, and she makes class fun and interesting,” added current student and junior Natalie Devine.

Clark is also the Yearbook Club supervisor with fellow Social Studies teacher Alison Jonesi. In this position, Clark aims to build-up the club so everyone is represented in the yearbook, rather than a small group of students. As advisor, Clark asks club members to take photos at events throughout the school year so she can add those photos – with captions – into the yearbook.

Jonesi stated, “Working with Brigid Clark is incredible. She is extremely hardworking and is always willing to lend a helping hand. She helps us stay organized for the Yearbook Club and always makes sure baked goods are on hand. What I love most about working with Ms. Clark is her humor and optimism – she is such a lovely soul to work with!”

While Clark is certainly an active staff member at WEGO, I wanted to ask her some “fun” questions about herself so I could get a better idea of what she does in her free time, and learn her answers to other icebreaker-like questions. I was able to do so after going through the background questions I had prepared.

Clark’s dog, Zero, who is named for a character from The Nightmare Before Christmas, a favorite movie of Clark’s as a child. (Photo by Brigid Clark)

Clark adores her dog, Zero, who was named for a character in Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas. In her own words, she describes him as “Little Zero. He’s perfect.” She takes Zero on walks and to the dog park to play with other dogs.

As of right now, her dog Zero is her child and she treats him as one, but in the future, Clark definitely plans to have children (once she has built-up her career and is financially stable to afford children and their needs). 

She also enjoys baking in her free time, particularly trying new desserts, such as chocolate chip cookies or brownies. According to her co-workers, Clark’s best recipe is her pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. The Humanities department relishes these treats, which usually disappear in an hour (and, since pumpkins cannot really be found at any other time of the year besides autumn, her co-workers savor this once-a-year treat). 

After a conversation over our shared love of baking, I asked Clark if she enjoys traveling, and while she said yes, Clark admitted she is not a frequent traveler due to financial reasons. Student loans can be financially draining, and Clark would rather deal with paying hers back sooner rather than later. Once she has taken care of her student debt, she would like to travel (every summer) to beaches that look beautiful, such as those in Greece or the Maldives. 

Clark likes watching comedy shows and is obsessed with The Office; she even listens to a podcast about the series. For Clark, The Office and other comedy shows offer a great way to decompress and have a good time after a long day at work. However, she does have a penchant for scary movies as well, including her favorite, Hereditary.

On the weekends, Clark can be found window shopping at the mall or exploring Chicago, where she loves finding cool spots to hangout and eat.

In her short time at WEGO, Clark has already made an impact at the school, providing a positive environment for her students, and offering to help anyone with whatever they need. Those who will have Clark as a government teacher next semester should consider themselves lucky: she’s got the “right stuff”.