Stanko says bye to Biology


Julia Kuhn, Features Writer

     After a career of 34 years teaching science at LZHS, Phil Stanko is getting ready to say goodbye to the students and faculty of the Lake Zurich community.

     “I enjoy feeling that I have, in some small way, helped the students grow and develop while sharing my passion for science,” Stanko said. “[Retiring] is a bittersweet thing for me. I’m looking to enjoy my closing year, and I still enjoy my students and being in the classroom.”

     Stanko’s inspiration to become a teacher started during his years as a student.

     “In my life, I had teachers who helped me through challenging times, and I wanted to be able to help young people through challenging times in their lives, so I became a teacher,” Stanko said.

     In addition to helping students, Stanko said that one of his favorite things about teaching was planning new curriculum to teach.

     “I really like working with colleagues on curriculum and bringing new components to what we teach. Specifically, we began teaching novels in science classrooms to promote science literacy and reading. I started the idea with AP Bio, and the kids really loved it,” Stanko said. “It’s gratifying to get better and find something that works. Now we’ve taught a variety of books in different science classes.”

     Stanko knows what curriculum is successful because he has experience teaching a variety of science classes at LZHS.

     “I’ve taught all sciences here at Lake Zurich except for physics: life science, earth science, biology one and two, lab science, experimental methods, AP Biology” Stanko said. “I’ve taught classes here that aren’t even around anymore.”

     From teaching a wide range of classes, Stanko has acquired many different teaching experiences, but says what he most enjoys about teaching are the students.

     “I have to say my favorite memories are spending time with students and watching the transition that takes place from freshman to senior year,” Stanko said. “Other memories I enjoy are from coaching. When I coached track, I had one of my athletes win the state championship in her event, which is something I will always remember.”

     Even though Stanko is not still involved with coaching at LZHS, he is currently involved with sponsoring the Environmental Awareness Club.

     “Another teacher is going to have to take over the responsibility of EAC next year because both Mrs. Eisermann and myself are retiring,” Stanko said. “I hope there is someone who will take an interest in sponsoring the club.”

     In addition to finding a replacement for EAC, Stanko had to find someone to take over teaching AP Biology, a class which Stanko has taught for 25 years after originally starting the class in the mid-80s. Anne Hopkins, science teacher, will be taking over the class starting next year.

     “I’m very proud and excited to say Mrs. Hopkins is taking over AP Bio. She is an excellent teacher and we’ve spent the last several years preparing for a smooth transition,” Stanko said. “I actually started the class of AP Biology at LZHS. There was no curriculum for the class before I came here.”

     After finishing his last year of teaching, Stanko has plans for the coming years.

     “I have some options open. I have an offer to be a coordinating supervisor for theIllinoisStateUniversitystudent teaching program,” Stanko said. “I would evaluate student teachers and be the liaison between the university and the school. That would keep me as busy as I want to be.”