On an early spring day in Robert Niemic’s U.S. History class, the topic is discrimination. The McHenry High School West Campus social science teacher gives students a preview of topics to come, including Jim Crow laws, Rosa Parks and Brown v. Board of Education.
Niemic invites students for their thoughts on discrimination before sharing his own. “It’s when you’re treated differently, or given a different set of standards, because you’re different,” Niemic told his students, while sharing some of his own background.
Niemic’s effort to weave real-life stories into his lessons is one of the things mentioned in his West Campus Staff Member of the Month award for February. Isis Flores, Class of 2024, said Niemic is an encouraging and motivating teacher.
“He has so many stories about things that have happened, and I really think that is so cool,” said Flores, who had Niemic for Philosophy of Leadership in the First Semester 2020.
Now in his 15th year teaching at McHenry High School, Niemic said seeing students do things they never thought possible inspires him as a teacher and coach. “Those accomplishments give me goosebumps,” he said.
In addition to teaching social science, Niemic has been a basketball coach for 15 years -- most recently as head coach of the girls team.
He’s been a baseball coach for 13 years, and also coached football in the past. Niemic is also the assistant athletic director for fall for five years.
A Crystal Lake South High School graduate, Niemic has a bachelor’s degree in social science from Hastings College where he played basketball on a scholarship. He also has a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction.
Like many teachers, Niemic has taken away his own lessons from the last year with COVID-19. Those lessons include being ready to respond when things don’t go according to plan.
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.
Click here to see the video announcing the award.