Position: Second Grade Teacher
School: Andrew Cooke Magnet School
School District: Waukegan Community Unit School District #60
City, State: Waukegan, Illinois
About the Nominee: This is the fourth year Ms. Ahern has been nominated for LifeChanger of the Year. She was previously nominated in 2013, 2014 and 2015. Julie Ahern has taught at Andrew Cooke Magnet School for more than 23 years. In the last 6 years she has brought over $150,000 in funds and materials to her school. Waukegan School District has many financial needs that challenge Ms. Ahern to look at every available opportunity. Her dedication and drive ensure that the students get everything they need, including cutting edge technology. She has equipped every student in her classroom with a laptop to use, and the classroom also has a 3D printer. Her students can confidently talk to others about the future of 3D printing and how the process works.
Ms. Ahern was previously in marketing and finance before she started teaching, which has had a tremendous influence on her teaching style. Not only does she bring real world experiences to her classroom, but she also challenges her students to go above and beyond. For example, Ms. Ahern's second graders completed the coding challenges during the international code.org event. Her students have won 7 national contests in the last 5 years alone. They approach these contests like a business project by researching and studying what makes a winning entry. In conclusion, Ms. Ahern's students are well equipped to tackle issues in today's society. They will be confident problem-solvers and make a difference in the world because of her tactics.
Ms. Ahern was recently recognized for her outstanding efforts with the local union's "Everyday Hero" award, which was presented to her at a national meeting. She is a hero and a LifeChanger to the students at Andrew Cooke Magnet School.