WT: Ok, first question: Did you ever think you'd teach through a global pandemic?
Ms. Arachie: No, never! I'm usually organized and plan a lot, but teaching remotely during a pandemic has taught me how to be more flexible when it comes teaching and everyday life.
That’s been a silver lining for us, too. Pandemic aside, what's the best thing about teaching elementary school?
I enjoy teaching at this level because you can really see the difference that you make in the students. Seeing their academic and social growth throughout the school year is very rewarding! I was fortunate enough to loop with most of my students from last year, and I've seen a tremendous amount of growth in all of them.
How did your elementary school experience compare to Waters? Did you grow up here in Chicago?
I was born in Nigeria, but I grew up in Uptown, Chicago. I attended Walt Disney Magnet School. Disney was different in the sense that the classrooms didn’t have walls—instead, we had big open spaces separated by cubbies and chalkboards to distinguish the end of one classroom and the start of another. Each grade had about 6-8 classrooms, so it was very big. I had a great experience there, but since students came from all over the city it lacked a sense of community at times. One of the things I love about Waters is that it has such a strong sense of community. I can tell that families are very close with each other here because many students live in the neighborhood!
That’s definitely true. Ok, let’s switch gears: If you could have dinner with 3 people, dead or alive, who would they be?
Can I bring a plus one? I would have dinner with all four of my grandparents! Three of them passed away when I was young, so I never really had the chance to sit down and talk with them. I'd like to hear their life stories, accomplishments, and words of wisdom.
With an answer like that, how could we not give you a plus one?! So what do you like to do when you're not teaching?
I enjoy traveling and being with my family. I've visited many states and countries! Aside from the United States and Nigeria, two of my favorite places to visit are London, England and Dakar, Senegal. Both have lots of history and beautiful architecture.
You must be really looking forward to traveling again!
Yes, I haven't been on an airplane since January 2020, which is hard for me because I use to travel so often. I can’t wait to start crossing places off my bucket list again!
Do you speak any languages besides English?
Yes, I speak Igbo almost fluently—it’s a language that many southeastern Nigerians speak. I can understand more than I speak, but I've made it a goal to learn more so that I can speak fluently one day.
That’s amazing. You should just randomly start speaking in Igbo one day in class—the kids would love it! Is there anything else they’d be surprised to learn about you?
I actually do have a surprise...I am expecting my first child in November!
CONGRATULATIONS, Ms. Arachie! The Waters community is so excited for you.