Naperville Central High School's award-winning newspaper.

Central Times

Naperville Central High School's award-winning newspaper.

Central Times

Naperville Central High School's award-winning newspaper.

Central Times

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From student to teacher: why do Central alumni come back?

From walking the halls of the flat wing as freshmen to educating in the same rooms as teachers, Naperville Central has over a dozen faculty that first started their high school journeys as students in the same building.

Administrators, Department Chairs, deans, teachers and paraprofessionals alike all share a common background: Naperville Central alumni.

“We’re trying to encourage a ‘grow your own’ [approach] and have [alumni] come back,” Principal Jackie Thornton said. “It’s nice to have some familiarity with the person.”

Despite graduating from Central decades apart, community remained a constant reason for coming back.

“As I was interviewing around, I realized, ‘why wouldn’t I work in a place where I like the administration, where I like the community [and] where I love my department?’” said humanities teacher Sarah Braun, class of 2010.

For some, teaching at Central was always a goal. Humanities teacher Michael Wilson even took a pay cut and gave up a position as varsity basketball coach at Mount Prospect High School in order to come back to his childhood school.

“I [chose] Central because I was familiar with the community,” Wilson said. “I wanted to come back here because it’s important for students who don’t like high school to understand that [that’s] okay and you can still be happy later on in life.”

For others, coming back to Central wasn’t their first choice. Braun began her teaching career in rural South Carolina as part of the Teach for America program program. Science teacher Jennifer Norgaard, class of 1996, also wanted to teach further away. She had hoped for a job closer to her postgraduate studies in Wisconsin before eventually accepting the job offer from Central.

“I knew that I wanted to stay [in Wisconsin],” Norgaard said. “The suburbs wasn’t my goal, but [Central is] a really good school.”

Many teachers also cited positive relationships with other teachers at Central as a key factor in their decision to return to their old high school. For U.S. History teacher Rob Lugiai, class of 2007, that mentor was Randy Smith, head coach of the debate team of which Lugiai was a captain.

“Smith was my debate coach and we were really close; we kept in touch throughout college and throughout my early career,” Lugiai said. “I was able to form connections with teachers that just seemed to really care about me.”

Lugiai originally taught at Naperville North, but when the position opened up at Central, Smith “put [his] name forward.” He’s now taught at Central since 2016, sponsoring PRISM and working with Smith as the assistant coach for the debate team.

Ultimately, the alumni that come back as students want to make Central a better place than when they graduated.

“I always really liked the teachers who clearly made sure that they talked to everyone in the class,” Braun said. “I try to make sure every student in my classroom feels like I know who they are.”

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About the Contributor
C.J. Getting
C.J. Getting, News Editor
C.J. is a junior entering his third year on Staff for the Central Times. He’s always loved writing news, and is excited to work as the News Editor this year. When he’s not writing for CT, C.J. can be found captaining the Debate Team or helping out SAC or JSA. He also desperately needs to detox from volunteering. After graduation, C.J. hopes to major in Political Science and spend too much money on Law School someday.
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