Teacher of the Issue: Ms. Sjekloca

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DSC_0412 copy Eleanor Pontikes In case you don’t know her that well, here is some information about Ms. Sjekloca, one of Latin’s newest teachers! Milena Sjekloca [Pronounced: Mee-leh-nah Sie-klo-cha] joined Latin as a teacher of Global Cities, Global Ethics, and Global Art and Culture back in Mid-September. Before coming to Latin, she taught at Hyde Park Academy for five years before transferring to Ogden International School for four years. Ms. Sjekloca heard about Latin through a family friend. Since not many students seem to know her, I wanted to make some of her stories public to the whole school.

  1. Where are you from? What was your family like? What is your family like now?
I was born and raised in Belgrade, Serbia (former Yugoslavia). My parents got divorced when I was very young, so my mother and my grandmother raised me. When I was 15 my mother and I immigrated to the United States. After spending four years in Salt Lake City, UT, we moved to Chicago in order to live in a more diverse, bigger city. Right now, I live with my husband Christopher Lamberti and our 15-month old daughter Sofia in West Rogers Park. Do you have any hobbies? Fun facts? Other interests? Teaching at a new school and parenting a toddler leaves me with little free time, but when I do have some leisure time I like to read crime novels. I’ve been reading Jo Nesbo’s novels lately. I enjoy the theater in Chicago, particularly dance performances at the Auditorium Theater. I also love foreign film, and my latest obsession are Pedro Almodovar’s movies. [If she wasn’t a teacher] I think I’d like to be a psychotherapist or a nurse. What was your favorite class growing up or in college? Growing up my favorite classes tended to be those taught by my favorite teachers, so French and chemistry. But in college I fell in love with art history and history. Once we started going beyond just mere facts, I was hooked. Also, art history helped me become a better writer because having an object to write about was exciting and motivating. What were you like as a student? How has that impacted the way you teach? I was a diligent, hardworking, overall a very good student, but a quiet one. I struggled with participation in class, so as a teacher I’m especially focused on making my classes discussion-based and trying my best to provide ample opportunity for everybody to participate. My goal is to encourage and draw out the quiet students especially. Did you have an influential teacher or adult in your life growing up? Growing up my grandmother was my hero. She was an extremely strong person who overcame a lot of hardships in her life, so I admired her and aspired to be like her. In high school, my French teacher, Madame Durst, had a tremendous impact on my life because of our shared experience as immigrants in the United States. She was also an incredibly positive, kind, and understanding teacher, who not only cared about teaching us French, but also cared about us as people and pushed us to succeed in everything we did. What were some preconceived notions you had about Latin, its students, or curriculum? Have any of these changed upon your time here? Latin has a great reputation, so I knew that it would be a wonderful place to work in. A daughter of a friend of mine recently graduated from Latin, so through her I knew that the students are hardworking and diligent, but I was happy to find out that besides being great students, Latin students are incredibly kind, considerate, and wonderful young people. What is your favorite part about teaching? I like teaching my subject matter, but my absolute favorite is working with my students. I think that the teenage years in one’s life are exciting, and I love that I get to be a part of that particular stage, when you guys are trying to figure out who you are and what you want to do with your lives. If you could teach any course possible to any age group besides what you are doing now, what would it/they be? This might sound unbelievable, but my program right now is exactly what I want to be doing. My favorite courses are world history, and art history, so teaching Global Cities and Global Art and Culture is a dream come true, and my favorite groups are freshmen and sophomores. I taught many different courses to all different grade-levels, so I finally get to live my dream. Do you have a favorite piece of art? Or genre? It is really hard to choose one work of art or a genre, but at the moment I find Wolfgang Laib’s work intriguing. He’s a German conceptual artist who works with natural materials like pollen, wax, milk, marble, etc.. His process inspires and encourages me to think about how to incorporate wellness into my life more. If you could go to any city that is taught in the Global Cities class for an all inclusive, prepaid trip, where would you go? I would love to visit Baghdad. What has been your favorite meal in the cafeteria? What is a meal you want to have in the future? The cafeteria food is amazing, and it’s great not to have to pack my lunch in the morning. While the turkey meatloaf is really tasty, I think I’d have to say that my favorite has been the salmon with roasted vegetables. I love curry, so more Indian dishes would be wonderful. If you could change one thing about Latin, what would it be? It’s hard to answer this question because I feel I haven’t spent enough time at Latin yet, but I’d like to see an even more diverse student body, faculty, and staff. I know that Latin works hard to accomplish this, and that makes me happy. Thank you Ms. Sjekloca for answering these questions so thoughtfully! It was a pleasure learning more about you.]]>