I’ve left Easter Seals to become a teacher and here’s why

Rachel Talen headshotYesterday was my last day at Easter Seals. I’ve worked here nearly five years. It’s hard to believe I’ve left a job and organization I love, but I’ve done it to pursue a long-time dream of mine: teaching.

I have so many mixed emotions about leaving Easter Seals! The thing is, though, that my work here at Easter Seals is what prompted me to want to teach.

Easter Seals gave me many opportunities to volunteer in local communities. Walk With Me, fundraisers and countless other events allowed me to “give back” in so many ways. Over time, writing stories about our precious families, hearing their testimonies, doing photo shoots and celebrating milestones with them, I came to realize I wanted more direct contact with the people Easter Seals serves.

I remember seeing loving therapists encouraging kids during a tour of the inclusive childcare center at Easter Seals DuPage and the Fox Valley Region. My heart melted all over the floor, and I thought to myself, “I need to do this every day!” And then, I learned so much about reintegrating and finding veteran employment through Easter Seals Dixon Center. I’ve become incredibly passionate about a population with other types of special needs: military kids.

All of these experiences led me to accept a middle school teaching position at a charter school on the west side of Chicago. With grants for Next Generation Learning, the school can accommodate multi-grade classrooms and lots of resources and technology. When I visited, I saw students sitting on bouncy balls and couches, curled up and reading with iPads and using the SMARTboards to do their math work.

Older students are allowed an elective class, so the first class I will teach on my own is 8th grade psychology! How cool is that?! I’m so excited to work with all types of students, including those with Individualized Education Plans (IEPs), and deliver response to intervention (RtI) for students with special needs.

My four-plus years at Easter Seals taught me a lot about the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and accommodating students with varying abilities. I feel confident about differentiating my lessons to appeal to all types of learners. My work with the Make the First Five Count program here at Easter Seals enlightened me about how crucial early intervention is, and why it’s important to address problems right away if a student needs extra help.

But I am an Easter Seals lifer, so I am not leaving completely! We often joked at the headquarters office that this organization and its work gets in your blood. I am so thankful for my experiences here and for the love and support from my coworkers, family and friends.

Easter Seals taught me that in life, people matter most. No matter your ability, where you are in life or where you have come from, every person — and every student — is valuable. I can’t wait to bring my Easter Seals values to the classroom and to my future students. Just think what they’ll learn about focusing on what’s possible in life and on the opportunities that are out there to help them succeed.

I refuse to say goodbye, though. For now, it’s see you later!


Comments may not reflect Easterseals' policies or positions.

  1. Rachel Says:

    Thank you everyone for your kind words! I miss Easter Seals, but am enjoying my new role and am learning so much!

  2. Jack Barnfield Says:

    Way to go Rachel! Good things always happen to good people so your days ahead are going to be Great!

  3. Patricia Wright Says:

    Congratulations Rachel! So lucky to have had you as a colleague for almost all five of those years. I now welcome you to the world of education. Being a teacher truly is a calling. Your students are going to be so lucky to have you as their guide to learning.