Photo of Dr. Mary Marks
  • “I grew up with a love for history. My grandmother was a history teacher. She would tell these wonderful stories that always intrigued me and brought history to life. It’s funny that when I started working in Barrington 220, I ended up at Hough, the oldest school in the district. Barrington is a place rich in history. You walk over to Evergreen Cemetery and see gravesites for Civil War soldiers. Barrington's White House was once used as a hospital for the World War I flu pandemic. A few years ago, I did my dissertation on the history and evolution of school libraries. Barrington 220 was one of the first school districts in Illinois to automate its library card catalogues. A lot has changed through the years, but the heart of the community remains the same. We pride ourselves in offering the best opportunities to our kids. I think the history that surrounds us only enriches the educational experience here.”

    Dr. Mary Marks, Hough Teacher Librarian and Longtime Barrington Area Resident 


     

Photo of Veronica Roth
  • “Curiosity is hands down the best quality you can have if you want to be a writer, as well as one of the better qualities you can have if you want to be a decent and interesting human being. The world is a big and sometimes ugly, sometimes beautiful, but always amazing place, full of fascinating things. A curious person is smart enough to want to dive right into it."

    Veronica Roth, BHS ('06), New York Times Best Selling Author 


     

tom bredemeier binspired
  • “My first experience with a computer was when I was in college. Back then they were like the size of my classroom! After college, I helped run my family’s manufacturing business in Chicago. We made fabric swatch cards. In the early ‘80s we bought an IBM minicomputer. It came equipped with source code. I quickly figured out I could make changes to the code, without hiring a consultant. I suddenly found myself in the groove. I told the computer what to do and it did it. For the next 20 years, I wrote software almost full time for our company. After 9/11 the economy took a brief dip. Businesses put their plans on hold, so nobody was buying office furniture. Our business took a hit. We ended up selling it in 2003. I was 48-years-old. Too young to retire. I started to think about what to do with the second half of my life. I decided to go back to school to become a teacher. I’ve been at BHS now for 13 years. The students I’m teaching are the first generation in history that can reach the entire world instantaneously, with the push of a button. Somebody once asked Warren Buffet what it was like to be Warren Buffet. He said, ‘I tap dance on the way to work’. I feel the same way." 

    Tom Bredemeier, Computer Science Teacher, BHS


     

mary binspired
  • “I was born in Liaoning, China and moved to the United States after I graduated from college. For a while, I was very afraid to speak English in front of people.  At one point, I almost became a mute in both group and public settings. Every time I heard something in English I had to consciously translate it in my head. Fortunately, one of my English Language teachers’ passion and appreciation of different cultures encouraged me. She let me know it was okay to make mistakes in public. Seventeen years ago, I started teaching students of all ages my first language, Mandarin Chinese. Being a Chinese immersion teacher is a tough job, but every morning I look forward to meeting, learning and growing with my students. Whenever a student speaks Chinese with a cheerful voice, my heart instantly melts. One day, I ran into a student from many years ago and she said, ‘I’m very grateful because you changed kids’ views of a new language and people from a different country.’ She works for an international trading company and still uses her Chinese skills. I find languages fascinating. Every day you can discover something new. It’s a window to someone’s world.”

    Mary Weerts, Chinese Immersion Teacher, BMS-Station


     

sam binspired
  • “Every teacher at BHS has made a big impact on me because they always brighten up the day for me. It’s a new day and they always give me new stuff to work on. My goal is to get straight A’s in all my classes.”

    Sam, Junior, BHS (2018-19)


     

chuck binspired
  • "When I was in college I never thought I’d end up back in Barrington. I wanted to get out and explore. Now I’m president of the BHS Alumni Association. Two of my children have graduated from BHS. My third will graduate in 2022. I’m thankful for the opportunities they’ve had here. Last fall I had my 35th high school reunion. It’s good to see the people you went to grade school with. I think we’re all proud to be Barrington High School alumni. A lot of amazing people have walked these halls."

    Chuck Thyfault, BHS Alumni Association President


     

hakeem binspired
  • “In college I majored in sociology with a minor in criminal justice and pre-law. I thought I would go to law school. Then I started volunteering with at-risk kids in a high crime area in Chicago. I saw they needed a mentor and I thought going into law enforcement was the best way to do it. I began my career at the Cook County Sheriff’s Office, where I worked in multiple units, in and around the jail.  After three years, I felt like I wasn’t impacting lives in the way that I planned. I came to the Barrington Police Department in 2016 as a patrol officer and started working as the Barrington 220 School Resource Officer during the 2017-18 school year. I feel like I have finally achieved the position I’ve always wanted. I’m here to protect the students and I get to mentor them and teach them right from wrong. I talk to students in the hallways. I always have a stash of candy sitting on my desk. Students will stop in, take a piece of candy and say hi. It means a lot. Approachability is one of my top priorities in this position. I don’t ever want students to feel like they can’t come talk to me about something.”

    Det. Hakeem Smith, School Resource Officer/Police Liaison, Barrington 220


     

heidi binspired
  • “I’ve been teaching at BHS for 20 years. Being a teacher is a tough job. But every August I return to the classroom because the kids keep me here. They surprise, amaze and challenge me almost every day. They make me laugh. Several months ago I received an email out of the blue from a former student who is now in college. It said: ‘Because of you I am now much more conscientious of the fact that the act of learning should be for the sake of learning. The degree will come after that. Now I'm more passionate about studying the subjects I love, instead of just playing it "safe" with choosing one major that would help my acceptance to medical school.’ Her words moved me because I value learning and growing as an individual and I've always been passionate about helping my students do the same.”

    Heidi Rockwell, English/History Teacher, BHS 


     

janet binspired
  • “We often give booktalks throughout the school year. It’s where we try to hook students in to reading a book of their choice, by giving them a tantalizing tease of the story. Four years ago, at the end of one of these book talks there was a freshman girl who wasn’t sold on anything. From then on, every time I saw her in the library I would try to give her a different book to read. I probably gave her 30 books over the span of four years, but she just wasn’t reading. Whenever I saw her in the halls I would say: ‘How’s your book coming along?’ and she would always smile and roll her eyes. It became a running joke between the two of us. During her senior year one of her teachers sent her down to the library because she didn’t have a book for independent reading time. I gave her the first book in a trilogy. Right before graduation she came back in to the library and said: ‘I had to find you. I love the book you gave me and I need you to know I finished it.’ She said she had already started the second book. I was so excited for her. I even got a little choked up. If you can get people to love books and see how amazing they are, then what a gift they’ve got for the rest of their lives.”

    Janet Anderson, Teacher Librarian, BHS


     

paris binspired
  • "In the summer you kind of get a break, so it's a good time to read. My favorite books are Dr. Seuss books. I like Green Eggs and Ham. He doesn't want to try green eggs and ham because he thinks he won't like them, but then he tries them and he likes them. I learned you can try something and if you don't like it you can say: 'I don't like it, but I'm glad I tried it'".

    Paris, Incoming 1st Grade Student, Rose (2018-19)


     

nina binspired
  • "I like summer school because you get to make new friends from both Station and Prairie. This summer I'm taking Teen Cooking and Intro to 8th Grade Math. In Teen Cooking we're baking Oreo cupcakes today. In math we're learning about probability. I like taking both because I get to do something fun and I get some learning in over the summer."

    Nina, Incoming 8th Grade Student, Prairie (2018-19)


     

becky binspired
  • “When I was a kid I loved to explore everything outdoors. I asked a lot of questions. My teachers would say to my mom ‘Becky won’t stop talking!’. One day in elementary school a parent who was an engineer came to my class for a career day. For his presentation, he brought in a box of candy canes and asked how we could reduce packaging, but still protect the candy canes from breaking. I remember working really hard to try to solve that problem. I loved it. Beyond that, I don’t remember being exposed to the problem solving and inquiry skills our STEM students are exposed to today. The curiosity was there, but it wasn’t fostered, so I never considered becoming an engineer. I love how our program gives students the opportunity to engage in the problem-solving process through designing, building and programming. I love when I get spontaneous hugs from first-graders and they say, 'That was awesome! I love being an engineer!'’”

    Becky McDowell, Elementary STEM Teacher


     

elena binspired
  • "My biology teacher, Mr. Kedzie, nominated me for a “Best of BHS” recognition. He wrote in his nomination letter: ‘Elena has been working very hard to improve her performance in biology class. She comes to work with me outside of class and has been spending extra time studying at home. In class she is engaged and asking questions when she needs help. She is demonstrating what it means to be a hardworking and dedicated Barrington High School student. In addition, she maintains a kind and positive attitude every day.’ I definitely wasn’t expecting him to nominate me. Biology is a tough subject for me. I’m currently getting a ‘D’ in the class. It made me feel good to know that he realizes how hard I’m working. He’s always ready to help when I have questions and he’s very patient. He says I can improve my grade, I just need to keep working at it.”

    Elena, Freshman, BHS (2017-18)


     

nick binspired
  • “I started playing piano when I was eight years old, then in 4th grade I started playing cello in the orchestra at Hough. Music has become as much a part of my life as eating, breathing and sleeping. I used to think I was just playing for myself. Then one day I read a speech that the Director of Music at the Boston Conservatory at Berklee gave to his students. It made me realize that as a musician you’re responsible for telling a story to your audience. He said: ‘If we were a medical school, and you were here as a med student practicing appendectomies, you'd take your work very seriously because you would imagine that some night at two AM someone is going to waltz into your emergency room and you're going to have to save their life. Well, my friends, someday at eight PM someone is going to walk into your concert hall and bring you a mind that is confused, a heart that is overwhelmed, a soul that is weary. Whether they go out whole again will depend partly on how well you do your craft.’"

    Nick, Orchestra and Jazz Band, BHS (2017-18)


     

bill binspired
  • “I moved to Barrington in the summer of 1969. It was the summer going into my senior year at BHS. My family was in disarray, struggling with alcohol abuse and domestic violence. I was struggling as a student. It was basically a race to the bottom for me socially. I decided to drop out of school in November. I knocked around for about a year. Then I met a girl and she inspired me to motivate myself to go back to school. I got my GED, went on to Harper College, married that girl, then went on to Northeastern Illinois University. After college I rose up through the ranks to become vice president of a commercial real estate and development company. I had a window office and all. But the last five years I’d sit in that office and tell one of my business partners that I was going back to school to become a teacher. I wanted to help kids who were struggling like I did. I earned two teacher certifications and ended up back at BHS teaching at-risk kids. I worked there full time for 24 years. With my plan in place to retire in 2017, I was asked to give the commencement speech. So there I was, nearly 50 years after dropping out of BHS, standing on stage, sharing my advice and experiences with the class of 2017. After retiring I was asked to return part-time at BHS to teach and advise in the Alternative Pathways Educational Program. Maybe it goes to the old adage that things happen for a reason. My decision to drop out of high school and the life experiences that led to that decision connect me to my students. A lot of them have said to me: ‘If it wasn’t for you Mr. Palmer, I wouldn’t have graduated from Barrington High School.’ My response is always the same: ‘I offered you the opportunity; you had to step up and take advantage of it.’”

    Bill Palmer, Alternative Pathways Program Teacher, BHS 


     

babbi binspired
  • "I’ve been head coach of the girls basketball team at BHS since 1993. I really try to invest in my athletes.  I try to get to know them. What makes them tick. What’s important to them. At the end of every season I organize a banquet for my team. We do it at somebody’s house on a Sunday night. We invite the parents and the players. I write a letter to the parents of all the seniors and I write a letter to the team. It kind of sums up the season. Makes us laugh. Makes us cry. One year I remember talking to a dad. I coached two of his daughters. I started to get all emotional and cry. I said to him: ‘You’re a doctor. What does this mean? Why I am crying? What do they call this?’. He looked at me and said: ‘I call it a gift’.”

    Babbi Barreiro, Life Skills Department Chair, BHS


     

lily binspired
  • “My favorite subject is science because you get to do hands-on experiments and we get to have video chats. Last week we did a video chat with Dr. Pascal Lee at NASA. We talked about how drones and robots can be used to explore Mars.”

    - Lily, 5th Grade Student, Roslyn (2017-18)


Binspired eleni
  • “My family is from Greece. My mom is from Nafpaktos. My dad is from Koroni. They moved to the United States when I was born. I grew up in Saginaw, MI, but everyone around me spoke Greek. I didn’t speak a lick of English before first grade. School was nothing short of horrible. Reading was a struggle. In 7th grade my family moved to Palatine and everything changed. My English teacher told my parents I was really behind and he’d like to work with me. They said they didn’t have the money to pay for tutoring. He said it was okay and he started working with me every week. He believed in me. I knew from that point on that I wanted to be a teacher. I wanted to be just like him and help kids. During my first few years as a teacher in Barrington, we had an author named Patricia Polacco come speak to the teachers. She brought her book “Thank you Mr. Falker”. The main character in the book is dyslexic and the teacher, Mr. Falker, takes the time to teach her how to read. I bought a copy and had Patricia sign it. A few years later I went back to my junior high in Palatine. My 7th grade teacher was still there. I hadn’t seen him since junior high, but he recognized me right away. He said he never forgot me because I always tried so hard. I gave him the book. On the inside cover I wrote: ‘I want to thank you for inspiring me to become the teacher that I am today. You helped me accept myself during a difficult time in a child’s life. I became more confident and proud of my differences. You were my Mr. Falker!’ A year ago I found out my teacher’s daughter coincidentally now coaches high school soccer with my husband. She said when her dad retired from teaching, the only thing he walked out of the school with was the book I gave him.”

    - Eleni Koulourianos Keller, 2nd Grade Teacher, Hough


Binspired ron
  • “I was a firefighter with the Rolling Meadows Fire Department for 30 years. The guys used to call me ‘Rescue Ron’ because I like helping people. After I retired, I started working at BHS. One day a table of kids in the cafeteria asked me why I’m always smiling. I said: ‘life is good’. Now all the students call me ‘Mr. Happy’. A lot of them don’t even know my name, they just say: ‘Hey Mr. Happy’. They talk to me about their grades and what’s going on in their lives. I don’t judge them. I’m not confrontational. I just listen and offer them advice. There’s a quote I like. It reads: ‘The smallest good deed is worth more than the grandest intention.’ I like to think that I’m making a difference in students’ lives, even if it’s just with a smile.”

    - Ron Johnson, Campus Activity Attendent, BHS


Binspired hagop
  • "I worked at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange for 16 years. Had a lot of fun. Developed a lot of connections. Starting in 2009, making money became very difficult. I would come home very angry and I was not a good person to be around. One day my wife finally said to me: ‘Listen, our kids are starting to hate you’ At that point I knew it was time to make a change. My wife said: ‘You love working with kids and high school was the best time of your life. Why don’t you go back to school?’ I had never thought about being a teacher. I played baseball in high school and college. School was never a priority. In 2010 I took my first class at Roosevelt University. I was 38-years-old. I was the oldest student in the class. But I finished my course work and went on to student teach. When I was hired in 2013 to teach the Incubator class at BHS, I worked my tail off to prepare and be the best teacher I could be. A few years ago there was an article in the Daily Herald about the success of the Incubator program. After it ran, I received a letter from my third grade teacher at Horizon Elementary School in Hanover Park. I had not spoken to her since elementary school. She said she saw my name in the article. She wrote she was proud of me and pleased with the success of my students. I guess reading that letter from her sort of put a stamp of approval on my decision to become a teacher. It reminded me that what I’m doing matters. I still have the letter. I keep it in my office."

    - Hagop Soulakian, Business Teacher, BHS


Binspired carter
  • “Math makes me want to learn because it’s fun. When I grow up I want to be a fireman and maybe if I change  my mind, an astronaut. That’s why I like math.”

    - Carter, Kindergarten Student, Grove Avenue (2017-18)


Binspired kristen paul
  • "I'm the only person in my family who has a college degree. Both of my parents dropped out of college. They instilled in me from a young age that education is important. I played high school basketball and ended up getting a scholarship to Trinity University in Deerfield. I took an education class at Trinity and started visiting a lot of nearby elementary, middle and high schools. I knew I was meant to be a teacher. After my sophomore year, I decided to stop playing basketball and focus on education. I lost my scholarship, but today I have a bachelor's degree, two master's degrees and I just received my doctorate in Educational Leadership from Concordia University. A few years ago my mom looked at all of my accomplishments and said to herself: 'What am I doing? I can go to college too.' So she went back to school in her fifties. Now she has a bachelor's degree in nonprofit management." 

    - Dr. Kristen Paul, Principal, BMS-Station


  • Know a member of the Barrington 220 community who would be good to feature in our #Binspired series? Email our Director of Communications, Samantha Ptashkin at sptashkin@barrington220.org