School: St. Mary, DeKalb
Number of years teaching: 22 years
Farm Bureau/Ag Literacy connection: I have taken the Farm Bureau’s Summer Ag Institute several times, and I am the Ag Ambassador for my school. I was the first Dairy Princess in DeKalb County, when I was Sue Harms.
What is your favorite unit to teach? I love to teach pumpkin science. During the unit we use literature from the Farm Bureau as well as the popular ag magazines. We observe and measure pumpkins. We gut them and count the seeds. We check for buoyancy. Student groups share findings and averages sizes and seed counts. They hypothesize and test. The activity lasts a week and encompasses all subjects of the curriculum. At the end, they make a jack-o-lantern.
Why is it important for students to learn about food and farming? I believe it is important for students to know where their food comes from, and that it requires a lot of hard work. I believe farmers should be respected and honored for the life-giving work that they do. I am partial to farmers as I grew up on a dairy farm, and I did a lot of work outside on the farm from baling hay in the summer to feeding calves when the temperature was below zero. Farmers have a formidable job in feeding the world.
Share one memorable teaching story. Over the course of my years teaching, I have received books with messages from students about how or why they enjoyed the year. One of my favorites was, “I like Mrs. Pelikan because she talks loud, writes big, and she’s fair.” Some other students thought I was awesome because I like football. They all eventually know that I’m an avid Steelers fan.
Family: I grew up with seven siblings. I have two sons, two daughters, and am widowed. I have four grandchildren, and one on the way!
College/Degree(s): Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education from NIU; Emphasis in Spanish
What did you want to be when you grew up? I wanted to be a teacher for a very long time. I was in Future Teachers of America all four years of high school.
Quote: “You’re burning my daylight!”
Hobby: I love reading, bike riding, and doing puzzles.
Book: “There’s a Boy in the Girls’ Bathroom” by Louis Sachar
Music: Neil Diamond
Sports teams: Steelers and Cubs
TV show: “Golden Girls”
Travel destination: I want to see a redwood forest someday.