Award-winning District 95 educator comes full circle
Isaac Fox Elementary School social worker Regina Hope listens to student Parker Iriarte on Feb. 7 at the Lake Zurich school. The Chamber of Commerce recently named Hope its "Educator of the Year." | Buzz Orr~Sun-Times Media
Home: I live in Hawthorn Woods with my husband, 5-year-old son and 22-month-old son.
Favorite restaurant: Mastro’s in the city
Hobbies: I enjoy shopping and spending time with my family. I’m very passionate about dance, too.
Favorite book: I loved the “Hunger Games” trilogy and “Gone Girl.”
Movies: The last movie I saw was “This is Forty.” I thought it was great!
TV shows: I’m a huge fan of “The Walking Dead” and “Girls.”
Favorite vacation destination: Italy. My husband and I took a long trip there before our son was born. I’d also love to go back to New York. We are planning a family trip to California this summer.
Updated: February 19, 2013 9:30AM
LAKE ZURICH — Regina Hope has gone from a student to a beloved social worker in District 95.
Recently, the Kildeer native was awarded the title of “Educator of the Year” for her work within the same school system she grew up in.
Hope attended District 95 schools before moving away to pursue a bachelor’s degree in psychology at the University of Iowa. She went on to earn a master’s degree in social work at Loyola University in Chicago, and upon graduation, Hope aggressively pursued a career back in Lake Zurich schools.
“I am very fortunate to work in this school, and every day I am reminded that I grew up here and came back for a reason,” said Hope of her position at Isaac Fox Elementary.
Isaac Fox principal Jill Brooks nominated Hope for the Lake Zurich Area Chamber of Commerce award. Brooks highlighted the significant difference Hope’s made in the lives of Isaac Fox students over the years.
“It is a pleasure to work with such a dedicated and inspired teacher, and I greatly appreciate her enthusiasm, willingness to grow in her position and her commitment to excellence,” Brooks said.
Q: How long have you been a social worker at District 95?
A: For 10 years. I initially split my time between Spencer Loomis Elementary School and Middle School North for five years, and now I’ve been working at Isaac Fox Elementary School for the past five years.
Q: How did you become interested in social work?
A: I kind of knew I was interested in the field of psychology, along with helping people and working with kids, but I was actually a junior in college the year Columbine happened. That had a huge impact on me in terms of studying bullying and the effects of that on the relationships of students.
Q: What does your line of work primarily entail?
A: I have about 60 students, and they all have their weekly and daily sessions with me. The common topics we talk about are social skills, conflict resolution, self-esteem and sometimes divorce. Every day is different.
Part of the curriculum is to separate the fourth-grade boys and girls into groups and talk about relational aggression and anti-bullying. You see bullying at any grade level, but it happens a lot more in fourth grade when they are just getting to that age; different things arise among social groups, they stop looking to mom and dad for guidance and start to look at social relationships. Conflict comes up and they don’t know how to navigate through that.
Q: What is this “rough spot” training that Principal Jill Books commended you for?
A: It’s an emotional management program for elementary-aged students what their rough spots are: Whatever they think is difficult, not fun and they don’t want to do. I use a balloon to symbolize what happens during a “hot” self talk, so when they think or say things like “I can’t do this,” “this is too hard” or “it’s not fair,” I blow more air into the balloon and show them how it makes the rough spot bigger. When we are angry, we are not able to effectively problem solve. For cool self talks, saying things like “I can do this,” “It’s not the end of the world” and “I will be okay,” I let air out of the balloon.
I’m passionate about it because it gives kids concrete language and a script to work through their problems and emotions with.
Q: What do you enjoy most about your job?
A: Directly working with the students. Some kids I see for five years, and I get to see the progress they’ve made. I get to see them grow and witness the progress they make, and that’s rewarding for me.
Q: What do you like about District 95?
A: Our district has a social emotional learning committee, and the principal and I are on that. I really believe that, as a district, younger students need this social emotional learning and need to be taught these explicit skills. Some students already have them and some students don’t. It teaches them how to problem solve and I feel like our district is on the brink of this, and understands that if a student’s emotions are not intact, their grades won’t be either. Illinois is only one of 11 states that has these standards. I’m excited to see that this community sees the importance of social emotional learning.