Illinois teachers of the year for 2011 and 2012 said one of the most impressive things about being marshals of this year’s state fair parade was the respect shown to them and their profession by parade-goers.
“There were people there who were genuinely happy to see teachers and they were cheering: ‘Go, teachers!’” said Josh Stumpenhorst, a sixth-grade language arts and social science teacher at Naperville’s Lincoln Junior High School, 2012 teacher of the year and IEA member.
“It makes you feel good inside and you don’t feel that very often anymore.”
Both Stumpenhorst and Annice Brave, a high school English and journalism teacher in Alton as well as the 2011 teacher of the year and IEA member, were asked by the governor’s office over the weekend to lead the 2012 Illinois State Fair Twilight Parade through Springfield’s north end and into the main gates of the fairgrounds.
Brave said the crowd was tough on Gov. Pat Quinn, who was marching with his group just in front of Brave and Stumpenhorst, but when people read the banner in front of the car she was riding in, their attitudes changed and they began to cheer.
“I think it shows the high regard with which people hold teachers. It was touching to see the respect and admiration that people still feel for teachers in our state,” she said.
Other highlights of the parade included being able to ride in a yellow car with black stripes that many of the children in the crowd thought was “Bumblebee” from the Transformers movie.
“They were yelling at me: ‘I love your car!’ They thought I had a Transformer car and they thought it was my car, which was so cool! Don’t I wish?” Brave said.
Both Brave and Stumpenhorst also saw the butter cow and Stumpenhorst, who grew up on a farm, was able to tour the tractor area where he took pictures of the older vehicles and sent them to his father.
“It was fun!” Stumpenhorst said.