Susan teaches special education for grades 9 through 12 at Edwardsville High School. The funny thing about Susan is she didn’t always know she wanted to be a teacher. She started out as a journalist – and after filling in for an education reporter and talking to excited students – she knew she needed to change her career path. She has her bachelors in journalism from Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville and also earned her masters in educational leadership from SIU-E. Susan now runs the Tiger Den coffee shop – it’s entirely student run by those both with and without disabilities. The skills her students hone and develop in the coffee shop help them be more independent after high school. The Tiger Den’s good work doesn’t end there – they give back to the community through donations and also give back to other educators by offering free coffee. As the 2019 Illinois Teacher of the Year, Converse will have an opportunity to share her knowledge and expertise with an even larger audience. This spring she’s been will be available to speak at teaching workshops, education conferences, and community meetings. Susan will also have the honor of representing Illinois at the NASA Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama, and the National Teacher of the Year program sponsored by the Council of Chief State School Officers.