Drake Fan and Poms Enthusiast: Meet Ms. Duerst
By Sarah Kamal
Ms. Elizabeth Duerst, Special Education department, is one of the new faculty members who is excited to be part of Northside’s talented staff. Although she has only worked here for a short time, she is already impressed by the drive and curiosity students bring to Northside each day.
Originally from Rochester, New York, Ms. Duerst moved to Glenview, Illinois at a young age. She enjoyed living in Glenview because she was able to easily access downtown Chicago while not quite living in the city. Ms. Duerst attended Glenbrook South High School and was heavily involved in her school’s Poms team. The team practiced every day during the school year, as well as during the summer months, to prepare for the National Dance Team Championship that took place each February. She also was part of a dance studio outside of school. When asked to reflect on her high school years, Ms. Duerst confessed that she wouldn’t change a thing. She said, “I’m a firm believer that the biggest learning curves come from difficult situations and developing the resilience to persevere through them.” Ms. Duerst hopes that current high schoolers value the importance of day to day interactions and find ways to connect in real life, not just online.
Since her freshman year of high school, Ms. Duerst has worked with students with special needs and realized that she had a passion for doing so. She obtained her undergraduate degree in secondary education and English at Lake Forest College. Ms. Duerst valued the education she received at Lake Forest College because she felt that it was a diverse, academically-focused school that helped her flourish both intellectually and personally, but she still felt that there was something missing. Ms. Duerst then chose to get her graduate degree in Special Education. While obtaining her graduate degree, Ms. Duerst enjoyed going to a school that was smaller because she was able form better relationships with her professors that she could not in a large college setting.
After obtaining her graduate degree, Ms. Duerst went to teach at Glenbrook North High School. She enjoyed the students, faculty, parents, and relationships she formed at the high school. Although she highly valued the experience she had there, she felt that she wanted to expand her work from a suburban setting to a city school. She chose Northside primarily due to its diversity and the size of the student population. Now, Ms. Duerst is a Special Education teacher and co-teaches five classes in the English, Social Science, and Science departments. She also coaches Northside’s Pom’s team. Through her many years of Poms experience, Ms. Duerst offers new insight to the team.
As a Wicker Park resident, Ms. Duerst often finds herself wandering into stores such as Steve Madden, Fabrik, and Myopic Books. She still wants to explore the many restaurants the area offers, but particularly enjoys dining at Janik’s Cafe. “Janik’s Cafe is a great neighborhood brunch spot with everything under the sun (eggs benedict to spaghetti and meatballs)” said Ms. Duerst. For a good pizza spot with interesting and delicious topping combinations, she recommends Paradise Park; for some all-you-can-eat sushi, she recommends Sushi Taku. Besides trying new restaurants and shopping, Ms. Duerst enjoys walking on the 606 Lake Shore Drive pathway and attending shows/concerts with her close friends. Most recently, this August, she attended a Drake concert.. She also likes binge watching Netflix, and is currently watching the show “Atypical,” a series about a teenage boy who is on the autism spectrum and dealing with typical high school relationships.
During her time at Northside, Ms. Duerst said, “I have really enjoyed getting to know all of the staff members and students here, and feel very supported during my first year. I am continually impressed by the drive and curiosity students bring to Northside each day, and feel lucky to be at such a wonderful place.” The school appreciates the help she has provided so far and will look forward to having her with us for the rest of the school year.