Katie Peterson | Staff Writer
Marinne Lilly, MacArthur Elementary School kindergarten teacher, spent years hearing her aunt Annette Silvers, Bradley Elementary School second-grade teacher, speak highly of working in Unified School District 207 for the past 18 years, so she said she didn’t hesitate to meet Bill Hatfield, USD 207 talent acquisition specialist, when he visited the University of Kansas in Lawrence for a career fair in Fall 2020.
“I just signed up for a meeting with him,” Lilly said. “I learned more about the district, and I loved it and ended up getting hired.”
Lilly graduated from KU in May 2021 with a degree in unified early childhood education, a step toward a goal she said she’s had since she was in eighth grade and volunteered at her church’s Vacation Bible School for the first time.
“I just loved it, being with kids every day, so when I was old enough to have a job, my first job was at a preschool summer camp,” Lilly said. “I worked there for five years, and I loved being with the little preschoolers every day.
“Then, I eventually worked my way up, so I was planning all the activities for the sum-mer camp, and I was the coordinator there for two years,” she said. “I just loved plan-ning activities and working with kids, and so I knew I wanted to become a teacher.”
Silvers said she is excited to have her niece working in the district.
“It’s exciting to see her energy and passion for teaching, and it’s nice to see a really great young teacher get started in a field that really needs great young teachers,” Silvers said. “It’s wonderful just watching her grow and develop and being able to be a part of that and helping her avoid some of the pitfalls that are hard to do when you’re young without burning out.”
Lilly said she’s grateful to have her aunt nearby, too.
“As a new teacher, I’ve got endless questions, and I have since I got hired here,” Lilly said. “I don’t feel bad about asking her all the questions I have, especially since we do have a good relationship, and we always have had a good relationship. I really enjoy having her nearby, so if I need anything I know I can go to her, and she can help me out.
“I’m looking forward to building relationships with my students,” she said. “I just really want to get to know them and finally meet them and do all the fun stuff because kindergarten has always been my dream job.”
Silvers said Lilly worked hard to make her dream a reality and had some advice for her niece, not just because she is a first-time teacher, but because she doesn’t have much background with the military community.
“Be kind to yourself and be patient with yourself knowing that it is a learning curve for you, too, and just remember that ev- ery child is somebody’s baby,” Silvers said. “(Military children) love deeply, and they welcome you into their family very quickly. Enjoy every minute of it because, toward the end of the year, they will tend to act out a little bit or pull away because it hurts less for them because saying goodbye is hard.”
“For the parents, there are so many stressors with COVID-19 and just life in general with these families, so sometimes they just need somebody to listen,” she said. “They’ve all got a backstory, so just love them.”