More than just teachers

Elijah King, Reporter

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It’s 2017, and productive leisure is the new free time as demonstrated by Technology Education Chair Brad Dearing and Physical Education Chair Maria Pessman. Dearing and his wife have owned and operated Dearing Country Farms for 11 years, and Pessman has worked at Swinger’s Grille in Normal for 9 all while teaching full time at U-High.  

Dearing and his wife raise over 3,000 chickens for meat and 800 hens for eggs, all in addition to cattle, goats, a 4-acre vegetable garden, a greenhouse, seafood services, one son, one daughter, and one newborn, and over 5 classes between ISU and U-High. His typical day puts mega CEOs to shame.

He wakes up early to feed, water, and let all of the animals out to graze. He then changes and makes it to school by 8 am to start his first class. After 2 pm he heads home to help his wife handle security, wash eggs, finish evening chores, and lock up before sunset. 11 years and 3 kids later, Dearing says it’s still worth it.

“I get to watch my kids grow up, and I know who they are raised by. They have an excellent work ethic, and they know a lot about farming and money,” Dearing said. “They can handle customers on their own at the farmer’s market, and they can deliver produce to our partner’s grocery stores and restaurants if we drive them.”

He prefers to work at school during the winter months, as the outdoors are far less appealing. However, in the summer he loves working out on the farm. He has employed a few students but tries to keep his farm life separate from his school life to avoid a conflict of interest.

“After working [at U-High] for 20 years, I get to see students who have grown up to become adults, and who still remember the things they learned in my class,” Dearing said. “All of my students seem to be motivated to learn about engineering and technology, and that makes teaching even more enjoyable when everyone is happy to be here.”

Pessman is an ‘everything employee’ at Swinger’s Grille. She busses tables, serves food, manages staff, hosts guests, etc. She started 9 years ago, as her first summer job in Normal, after moving from Champaign. She’s pretty busy on the weekends, but reserves all of her weekday time for school and teaching.

“I work very little during the school year. Only enough to keep my job for the summer,” Pessman said.

Friday’s are her busiest days. When she has to deal with unhappy customers, she usually gives them a free dessert or appetizer. When she’s not working, she’s researching new information to teach her students. She’s motivated by the ‘light bulb moment’ students get when they finally grasp a difficult concept.

Read Elijah King’s sidebar “The future of farming.”

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More than just teachers