LifeChanger of the Year Nominee Profile

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Julie Ahern

Position: Writers Workshop Teacher
School: Andrew Cooke Magnet School
School District: Waukegan Community Unit School District #60
City, State: Waukegan, IL

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Julie Ahern was nominated by her colleague, Kathleen Dudley.

"Julie Ahern makes a huge difference in the lives of her students here at Andrew Cooke Magnet School," explains Dudley. "She is an innovator and a leader. Julie encourages students to reach for the stars and become the best they can be. I have known Julie for nearly 30 years, and in that time, she has nurtured many young people, teaching second and third graders in the elementary classroom. She is kind and nurturing, but she also helps students to discover their potential by teaching them the importance of excellence and perseverance."

Ms. Ahern currently teaches technology skills to students in kindergarten through fifth grade. She challenges her students to strive, providing them with many opportunities to work with innovative, cutting-edge technology. Through her teaching, students discover the joy of creating with technology and develop an entrepreneurial spirit. Ms. Ahern is extremely resourceful, finding opportunities to provide exciting new technology to her students through outside grants and donations. Many of her students come from low-income, trauma-filled backgrounds, and they wouldn't be able to take advantage of these unique opportunities without her efforts to go above and beyond. She opens their eyes to an entirely different and exciting world through technology.

Whether Ms. Ahern is fostering the love of learning, expecting excellence, enabling young people to rise to their highest potential in the elementary classroom, or opening students' eyes to the exciting world technology can provide, she is genuinely a LifeChanger in Waukegan.

"Julie Ahern makes a huge difference in the lives of her students and all around her," said Dudley. "After 30 years of service to Andrew Cooke School, Julie will be retiring. Her impact on our students and school community is unmeasured."



Comments (10)


Araseli Bahena Posted 26 days ago

I am JP Sosa's mother and you are such a dedicated teacher with lots of passion for teaching technology!!! God bless you for what you do!!!!!!

Karen Malabanan Posted 26 days ago

Mrs.Ahern is one of the most exceptional and extraordinary teachers I’ve met. My daughters were so lucky to have Mrs.Ahern as their teacher. Her teaching has enhanced learning for kids especially in the technology aspect. She taught students in a unique way that made learning interesting and fun! I believe she truly cares for her students always pushing them to excel. Her presence at Cooke Magnet made the environment a happy place to be for not only the students but parents as well! Alexy and Amaya will miss you, but will forever carry the knowledge they gained from you. Wishing you all the best Mrs.Ahern!

Sina M. Cutchshaw-Ramirez Posted 2 months ago

I really enjoyed your article about technology in education! You are a visionary in the best sense of the term! My son, Hyrum has learned so much from you and by exploring the ideas you have sparked in that awesome brain of his. During COVID, I think I enjoyed your classes as much if not more than my son! We owe you a world of gratitude for all you do and have done for our son and for all of the kids (and their grown-ups) at Cooke.

garrett collier Posted 2 months ago

I am one of Mrs. Ahern’s former 2nd grade students. As a mother herself, she has a very intuitive way of connecting with students and letting them express themselves in a safe manner. She has amazing learning alternatives & she has WONDERFUL teaching skills. She always took an extra moment to teach us something if we needed it. And as she developed a close bond with my sister (also a former student), me, & my family, she understood my needs as a kid who was sort of different from the rest. Conclusively, when I think back on my time in 2nd grade I really think about how Mrs. Ahern helped me & changed my life in great ways. Thank you so much Mrs. Ahern; I’m still thinking of you 10 years later!!!

Teresa Coletta Posted 2 months ago

My daughter had Mrs. Ahern in second grade and she was an amazing teacher. Mrs. Ahern has a great way of connecting with her students and my daughter learned a lot that year. Our family was going through a hard time that year and Mrs. Ahern made sure my daughter was adjusting and handling changes well. She cared about her as a student but more importantly as a child who needed extra care. We were blessed to have her be her teacher that year where she really did well academically and emotionally. Mrs. Ahern really is a Lifechanger!

Annie Hellickson Posted 2 months ago

I relentlessly advocate for Julie Ahern as Life Changer of the Year- as this nomination perfectly exemplifies the magnitude of her work. As a senior in college, I am grateful to say my third grade teacher will remain the most monumental woman ever apart of my educational experience. In fact, to say changed my life would be an understatement and an injustice. The trajectory of my career can be amounted to Julie Ahern believing in me, many years ago. She was the first, and only, teacher to sincerely and undyingly have faith in me. Not only does she provide and serve for her students- at both school and home, present and former students alike- But she reminds them of their worth. Their boundless capabilities. I am undyingly grateful that a mind, heart and soul like hers can inspire and ignite the young minds of our future. Almost twelve years later, I stand behind myself and my abilities. And I owe that to her. Waukegan needs her.

Ray Ramirez Posted 3 months ago

Hi all, I am a bit despondent. I meet Julie for the first time just recently as I toured with my daughter Amy. As we spoke, I could sense her passion, her zeal and supportiveness for my daughters learning and appreciation for science. I guess it takes one geek to appreciate another geek. Ho-Hum. My daughter and I will miss you. Nevertheless, take care of yourself. Happy trails to you. Amy, Ray and Di

Sara Callejas Posted 3 months ago

I am a former Cooke student. I studied at Cooke from kinder to 5th grade and i will tell you that Ms.Ahern has been one of the sweetest ,most caring, patient, and loving teachers here. I was shocked and so sad to learn that she would be leaving. Ms.Ahern, hope everything goes well for you! Lost of Love Sara

The Taylor Family Posted 3 months ago

Ms. Ahern is an incredibly exceptional and inspirational teacher and person. She has taught my children so much and will be greatly missed.

Margarita Posted 3 months ago

She’s the best the kids are going to miss you.