North Star News

Niles North High School | Skokie, IL

North Star News

Niles North High School | Skokie, IL

North Star News

Jean Attig, Business teacher

Photo credited to Jean Attig

What is your name and department?

My name is Jean Attig. I’m in the ECSB department. That’s the engineering, computer science, and business department. I am a business teacher.

How long have you worked at Niles North?

This is my 7th year at Niles North, and 27th year in the district. I taught 20 years at Niles West, and a [for] few of those years at West I split my time and taught an elective at Niles Central as well.

How is Niles North different from Niles West?

Better; When people say West is best, that’s a lie. When I found out I was going to come here after 20 years, I cried, but I knew the people who I was going to work with here at the time because we share the same director. We’ve always worked together. So I was really excited to work with the teacher at the time, her name was Miss Mary Naglevoort. I feel like the students here have appreciated all that I’ve brought to my curriculum, my classes, and DECA. I don’t feel like the kids at West always appreciated it, it was like they took things for granted over there. I like the staff here, the teachers in my department, [and] the whole dynamic here. And that has changed with new teachers, and West has gotten new teachers too, but I just like it better. The only disadvantage is that it’s farther from home for me.

What led you to teaching business specifically?

When I was in high school, my favorite classes were my business classes. I didn’t think I would go to college. I’m the first in my family to go to college. I thought I would go to a business college where I would learn to be a legal secretary, which is what I thought I would do. My mother never had the opportunity to go to college, and she said to me my senior year, “you’re gonna go to college, pick one.” I said, “I don’t know what I’m gonna do.” My mom, who always wanted to be a teacher, said, “Why don’t you be a business teacher? You love those classes.” I said, “I can do that?” I didn’t know that was a major. So, I talked to my teachers and got some direction from them, and I thought, okay, I’ll try this. I took my first introduction to business education my freshman year and I was hooked.

How has DECA changed from when you first came to North to now?

When I came here, I think our total chapter was 25 kids. We only had maybe five or six kids that had done DECA before. The first year I went to State we took 14 or 15 kids. This year we’re going to take 65. I had nine students in my business strategies class, seven of them made it to Nationals. That was my first group I took to Nationals when I was here. It’s just exploded; we have close to 100 members and we’re going to take about 94 to Area this Friday. We have 46 kids who did a written project, another six are going to do a professional selling competition, versus the 11 who did a written project my first year. It’s definitely changed. It’s become something that kids do for three, four years, not just one, which is amazing. The advisors have changed obviously. Mr. Pahl has been here six years, Ms. Mielke has been here four, Ms. Torres has been here two. Youthful advisors too have helped.

How are you preparing for the upcoming Area event?

Well, it’s a lot of work. We’ve been practicing role plays, practicing tests, meeting with students, talking to students, practicing with students. There’s a lot of behind the scenes work that students don’t see, putting all the materials together, making all the logistics, the bus, making sure you have name tags, things like that. It takes a village, for sure. As a school, we also run a roleplay, we have to organize an event. We run the financial team decision making. I’m on the state board as well, so I have other responsibilities. There’s a lot that goes on.

How did you come to be on the Illinois DECA board? 

A few years ago, somebody retired and left the board. I got a call from Mr. Weber, who is one of the executive directors of Illinois DECA. He’s been part of Illinois DECA for over 50 years. Long as I’ve known, he’s been running the show. He called me and he said, “An email is going out that there’s going to be an opening on the state board. I expect your resume to be submitted immediately.” And when Mr. Weber asks you to do something, you do it. So I did, and then the board elected me.

What are your post-retirement plans after the end of next year?

I don’t know. My husband still works, and will work for probably another ten years. Currently, his job is a hybrid job. If he’s allowed to work 100% remote, we will move to Florida, where my daughter lives. She lives in Orlando, she’s a teacher. My son graduates from college in 2025 and he would like to live in Florida as well. If that doesn’t happen, I probably will do some subbing, cause the money is pretty good to be a sub. A high school sub, how hard is that? We used to have subs actually teach, like come in and teach a lesson. Now everything is just online, so I’ll probably do that. I’ll still be involved with Illinois DECA. I won’t be involved with Niles North DECA, but I will remain on the board for Illinois DECA. Even if I moved to Florida, I can still stay on the board. We only meet four times a year and then we have our state competition. I could always come back. I’m not gonna help Florida DECA or anything.

Right now is the time students choose their schedules. What’s your pitch for why students should pick a business class?

Some of your day needs to be what you want to do, what you think is fun. Somebody taking an extra science class may be fun for them, that’s not fun for me. But every student should choose things that interest them and that they think they’re going to be able to find their passion in. If you think you want to major in business in college, you want to run your own business, you want to be your own boss, all those types of reasons, then try a business class. We have lots of different ones to try: marketing, investing, business incubator, business strategies, I teach accounting, now we have the new college business class. There’s choices. I think that students need to try everything because I think it’s more important to find out what you do like because then you’re not going to waste your time when you leave here and go to college. Check things off the list, whatever it is. If you’re going to be a business major, you’d be remiss not to take accounting because you’ll have to take it in college. All of my students who take it here get an A when they go to college. I haven’t had one student come back and say they got a B.

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About the Contributor
Sam Dababneh
Sam Dababneh, Review Editor & Asst. Sports Editor
Sam Dababneh is a Sophmore at Niles North High school. This is his second year on North Star News.

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    Cynthia FeyJan 29, 2024 at 2:17 pm