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Name: Gene J. Kanak

Age: 35

Education: Master of Arts – English, Governors State University, University Park, Illinois, pending; Bachelor of Arts - Journalism/Mass Communication, University of St. Francis, Joliet, Illinois, 2001; Hinsdale South High School, Darien, Illinois, 1997.

Prior teaching experience: Watseka Community High School, Watseka, Illinois, 2011-2014; Cedar Hill Collegiate High School, Cedar Hill, Texas, 2010-11.

Prior professional experience: Public Relations Coordinator, United States Bowling Congress, Arlington, Texas, 2008-2010; Sports writer, The Daily Journal, Kankakee, Illinois, 2002-2008; Teacher’s Aide, Clifton Elementary School, Clifton, Illinois, 2001-2002.

Family: Wife, Angie; children, Mary (8); Geno (5).

Hobbies: Spending time with family, sports, particularly bowling and softball, weight lifting/fitness, reading, listening to music, riding roller coasters, and writing.

Favorite piece of nonfiction: Lies My Teacher Told Me, By James W. Loewen

Favorite piece of fiction: Deadline, By Chris Crutcher

Favorite book series: Harry Potter, By J.K. Rowling

Favorite quotation/saying: “If students don’t know that you care, they won’t care what you know,” (Unknown).

Outlook: Teaching high school students is a privilege and a responsibility. As such, it’s important for my students and parents to know that although I tend to be a laid-back person, I take my job very seriously. I strive to make the most of our class time each and every day.  The assignments and activities we complete are carefully planned and are based upon current research regarding best practices that achieve positive student outcomes. My goal is to help each and every one of my students enhance their reading, writing, speaking, and critical thinking skills. I am a strong believer in metacognition, which simply means thinking about thinking. Students come to me with their own unique world views that have been shaped based upon what they have learned at home and what they’ve constructed from the world around them.  My goal is to help students determine why they think what they think and to determine whether or not said beliefs are based upon evidence or emotion. From time to time I will challenge students’ world views during classroom discussions and activities. To be clear, I will never do so in order to attack a world view that differs from my own; instead, these challenges will be made in order to force students to defend their positions using carefully-selected, well-reasoned arguments that can be supported by evidence. The ability to support one’s arguments and to effectively communicate them through speech and writing is a crucial step in the intellectual maturation process; therefore, it will be a skill that is constantly being addressed and developed within our classroom.

Email: gkanak@cusd4.org

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