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Steven Slaughter


Middle School ELA Teacher

Middle School

Steven Slaughter

Steven began his adult life as a designer and illustrator. After a dozen years, though, he began to feel restless, enjoying the creativity but wondering if there was something more. Then, his daughter entered kindergarten and he began volunteering, helping the seventh-grade tech class work on designing the school website. When the bell rang and he had to leave, he felt depressed to rejoin the Land of Adults. This was his signal. He was accepted into the Golden Apple Foundation’s Accelerator Program for career changers and became a teacher. After all these years, he still loves spending his days with kids and wouldn’t want to do anything else.

For eight years, he taught grades 1 & 5 at Lincoln Elementary, a CPS neighborhood school in Lincoln Park. Despite huge class sizes and bureaucratic challenges, he loved his time there, learning so much about how to teach creatively. During that time, he also completed a Masters from Northwestern University and achieved National Board Certification. Then, at the start of 2012, an opportunity presented itself to teach at Rosslyn Academy, an international school in Nairobi, Kenya. Steven and his family sold or gave away most of their possessions, rented out their house, and flew 8,000 miles away with 23 bins and their three kids, who were starting grades 4, 6, and 9. He taught grades 7 & 8 English and later 11 & 12 English. Along the way, he worked on 20 plays and musicals, which he came to love as much as his day job. They didn’t plan on staying so long, but all really enjoyed living abroad in a school community of over 50 countries, and stayed 9 years, moving back when their youngest graduated from high school.

As he considered what educational environment to pursue next, he reflected on the highlights of his years with kids. What had been the most impactful student learning experiences? He realized that from grades 1 to 12, it was always those hands-on activities, always the project-based experiences, always the work in which children had some measure of autonomy. Yet, his creative inclinations were often met with skepticism from admin… until it was completed and it worked. Coming back to the States, he searched for any schools where this way of learning was nurtured, was the rule, not the exception. He toured unschooling centers on the east coast, interviewing young people about their experiences for a new podcast. He considered opening a learning center in Chicago, though he wasn’t sold on 100% unschooling. Then he found Bennett. It is the only school in the city where he wants to teach. He is thrilled to be here teaching MS English and believes he has a lot to share and so much to learn as he (finally!) is able to plunge into Project Based Learning as the center of the work.