As McHenry High School works to educate young people in the midst of a worldwide pandemic, the newly created Freshman Success team has been crucial in helping students new to high school get on a path to success.
Team members reach out to struggling new students to work on homework, prepare for tests or just to check in. The team’s work has been particularly important this school year with remote learning at the start of the year, and hybrid learning starting in January.
West Campus administrators and staff members credit science Instructor Theresa Lichon’s key role in that team as one of the main reasons she was named West Campus Staff Member of the Month for January.
“Theresa has been instrumental in organizing our Freshman Success team,” West Campus Principal Marsha Potthoff said. “She definitely goes above and beyond to make sure these students succeed.”
Lichon, who is in her third year in McHenry, said working with freshmen is one of her favorite things. She currently teaches sophomore chemistry and AP chemistry, but when she’s working with 9th-graders, she works on a variety of subjects.
“I think caring about the student as a whole, not just a science student, is why I like working with freshmen,” Lichon said. “My goal is to have kids leave here ready to do whatever they like.”
Starting in a new school is never easy but she said this year has been particularly challenging for freshmen given the challenges of working remotely. “These kids are brand new to high school,” she said.
Lichon, a Grayslake native, initially went to school with the plan to study for a pharmacy-related career. Then while working as a teaching assistant in a science lab she discovered she liked teaching. “I think I always wanted to help and teach people.”
She has a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the University of Illinois at Chicago, and a master’s degree in educational leadership from Northeastern Illinois University. Prior to coming to McHenry, she taught at other schools, including the Chicago Public Schools.
In addition to teaching, Lichon also assists in coaching the McHenry Dance Team, and she mentors new teachers. She also has her own student teaching assistants who help her with various tasks throughout the day while she mentors them.
To see the video announcing the award, click here.
The MCHS Staff Member of the Month program honors a staff member from East Campus and West Campus each month during the school year. Thanks to the support from Meat and Potato Eatery and Brunch Cafe, each award recipient receives a gift certificate as well as a plaque.