Suzanne Myers is an art teacher at Johnsburg Junior High, where she has four children who just finished the seventh grade.
Art is an exploratory class at the fifth-through-eighth-grade school, so her children have had her as a teacher for parts of schools years. The school made sure she had only one child as a student in the class at a time.
Because Myers has children who are her students, she has to do deal with balancing home life and being fair with her kids at school.
Myers, who just finished her 24th year of teaching, recently spoke with reporter Joseph Bustos about being a teacher, with quadruplets as students.
Bustos: You have a big family. Was it always your goal to have a big family?
Myers: We were planning on two. God had other plans, I guess. ... We had a little assistance with fertility. The thing is, the doctors never anticipated this happening either. It was a shock.
Bustos: Did you talk to your kids about the professional relationship and the at-home relationship? How do you tell them to separate that?
Myers: You know, my husband and I always say, things we discuss at home ... stays at home. When you’re at school, we expect you to be at your best behavior. There’s no negotiation, that’s just expected. Bustos: How do you take care of the fairness issue? They’re your kids, but there are other students in the room.
Myers: Well, consistency is key. My daughter, I had her one quarter, she came up to me and said, “Can I go to the bathroom?” I said, “Yeah, you can go to the bathroom. Do you have your pass and your agenda?” She said, “Mom, no I don’t.” I said, “Sit down.” The other kids were watching to see how I would treat that situation. I think I do a good job of being consistent. They don’t get any special treatment.
Bustos: Johnsburg is a small town. ... This is the only junior high in the district. What kind of challenge is there having your kids in the room, and knowing everyone else’s parents?
Myers: Well, you have the challenge, when I go to the grocery store, [and] having a parent-teacher conference in the aisle. I don’t want that. The kids ask me, if I could have one wish, what would it be? “To have an invisibility cloak.”
Bustos: As they get older, you will have four kids turning 16 at once. Four kids in college at once. That’s going to be quite the expense. How much are you thinking about that?
Myers: I don’t know. My older daughter is very self-sufficient. She works, and she goes to MCC and she pays for the majority of that on her own. So as far as my responsibilities to them; I paid for my own, and I guess if they want to go that badly, they’ll figure it out.
Bustos: What’s the best part of having your kids as your students?
Myers: I’m enjoying watching them grow up around their peers. I like to see how they interact with peers.
Bustos: What’s the worst part?
Myers: The worst part is my day doesn’t end at 3:15 p.m. If they’re bickering and arguing, it continues on until we go home. ... That’s the hardest part.