Piotr’s students attending NIU STEMfest October 2016.
Since earning the Eunice B. Schwemm Scholarship and graduating with a bachelor's degree in elementary education from NIU, Piotr Wojciaczyk has become a standout teacher at the Pulaski International School of Chicago.
At the school, Piotr has developed his own curriculum to teach technology and design to middle school students, and continues to expand their knowledge by teaching them about global matters and providing them with field trips, such as taking them to NIU's STEMfest this fall.
Working with a diverse group of students is easy for him, Piotr says, because NIU prepared him for that. After graduating in 2012, he had several job offers but liked the opportunity to work with Pulaski because it is an International Baccalaureate school. The IB program is designed to develop students' intellectual, personal, emotional, and social skills to live, learn, and work in a rapidly globalizing world.
"They genuinely want to learn and that is really rewarding," says Piotr, who also holds a master's degree in educational technology.
Piotr wanted to return to the inner city to teach, where his family settled after emigrating from Poland. The Eunice B. Schwemm Scholarship is given to Chicago-area students like Piotr, who are pursuing a teaching degree and who demonstrate need. Preference is given to students who plan to teach in the inner city or in a Chicago-area system with educationally challenged children.
"That's where my childhood memories are and that's where I wanted to go and get back to my community," Piotr says.
He credits Northern Illinois for contributing to his success because his undergraduate degree made him very marketable.
"I felt that NIU was really helpful in preparing us for what is actually going on in the classroom," he says.
Like most students, Piotr graduated with loans and found that paying for college was hard. "I was often discouraged along the way. I had loans and I would worry about not being able to find a job," he remembers. "Scholarships let me focus on what I could achieve rather than whether or not I would be able to come back the following semester."
Thanks to NIU donors, he became a scholarship recipient and was awarded several scholarships while he worked toward his bachelor's degree. "Because of the fact that these people continue to support students like me and believe in graduates of NIU, it's really important that they know that students really appreciate that and we are thankful for the ongoing support," he says.
You, too, can help deserving students like Piotr Wojciaczyk make their dreams come true and lead a better life through excellence in education at NIU. Contact Judy M. Schneider at 815-753-1389 or firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.