Position: APL Instructor
School: Urbana Adult Education
School District: Urbana School District 116
City, State: Urbana, Illinois
About the Nominee: Peggy Buck was nominated by a colleague, Marcellos Gray. For generations, Ms. Buck's generosity and nurturing demeanor have given students the footing and empowerment they need in order go to college, achieve stability with gainful employment and become active participants in their community. Ms. Buck has taught in Urbana School District for 29 years, and she currently teaches the Social Studies curriculum for her school's high school diploma program. Although her leadership was recognized by the IACEA's Teacher of the Year Award in 2011, the positive impact that she has had on her students and school is innumerable and invaluable.
Ms. Buck believes in the personal giftedness of every student. She is steadfast when working with students and never gives up on any of them, regardless of their circumstances. This insight and confidence represent not only her love for teaching, but her authentic commitment to student equity. When asked about her proudest moments as a teacher, Ms. Buck's responses include watching students become parents and participate in their children’s schools, seeing students receive their high school diplomas, and being there when students get jobs after she has helped them prepare for interviews with clothes, coaching, haircuts and/or transportation. Her commitment to her students' self-sufficiency and personal betterment reaches far beyond the classroom walls. She has helped students with security deposits, utility bills, baby clothes and many other building blocks for their wellbeing. Additionally, Ms. Buck actively engages in community outreach for her church, and she writes to inmates to let them know that they have value, worth and potential.
One of Ms. Buck's primary goals as a teacher is to empower adult education students to become agents of change in their own lives and in their communities. She strives to give students the confidence and tools to advocate for the changes they want to see in the world. She unifies social and historical knowledge from the curriculum and teaches its practical application. This speaks to her belief in the relationship of knowledge to social empowerment. Ms. Buck has made social justice the defining framework of her career. Her actions and words reflect this value. In her words, she “…believe[s] we can make a better world through authentic relationships and acceptance of those who are different from ourselves.” Ms. Buck believes that we, as a society, are a work in progress. She applies this belief by supporting colleagues and students because, “we all need support at some point within our lives to experience true growth.” As a result, she has been an instrument in social stability and the achievement of her students’ education goals for many years. Overall, Ms. Buck is a LifeChanger because she has made positive change in the lives of her students, who have been the central force of her career.