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Boreal Community Media

Meet your Cook County Neighbor: Amanda Beal

Dec 03, 2023 06:07AM ● By Editor
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A Boreal Community Media Exclusive - December 3, 2023

How did you and your family "land" in Cook County?

We landed here unexpectedly and by good fortune! In 2013 my (now) husband and I were living in Colorado. I had just quit my job managing a Starbucks for Vail Resorts, and I knew I wanted to go back for my master’s but I wasn't sure what for; my husband had been working seasonal wildlife biology positions for the US Forest Service. He applied for jobs all over the country and initially landed a term job on Long Island. We were in the process of finding an apartment there when he was offered a permanent position with the Superior National Forest. We moved to MN in February of 2014 but couldn't find housing (surprise!) in Grand Marais. We made a home in Two Harbors, with my husband commuting up to Grand Marais, until I was lucky enough to get a position teaching English here in Cook County!

What inspired you to work in education?

I didn't realize I wanted to be a teacher until I was in my early twenties, but I think I was always drawn to education. As a high school student, I tutored elementary kids; in college I was a writing tutor and taught basic French to elementary students; I was drawn to management positions after college. I had always suspected I would want to be an English teacher, but it wasn't until I subbed in a high school English class in Two Harbors that I realized how much I loved being in a classroom. I feel so fortunate to be a teacher--being a high school English teacher is truly my dream job. I absolutely love being in the classroom with incredible young adults, helping them become compassionate, empathetic, critical thinkers. I especially love working with juniors and seniors, because they're truly at a "jumping off point" transitioning between high school and "the real world." Building relationships and (hopefully) opening doors for these incredible kids feels like some of the most meaningful work I can do in this life.

Favorite part of your day teaching at Cook County Schools?

It's so tough to choose! I especially love doing my best to create a warm and welcoming space for all my students. I care so very much about spending time to create relationships with and learn about each of my students—they really are the highlight of my job. They also absolutely crack me up: teenagers are hilarious!

Do you have a favorite spot in the County where you and your family like to go on your days off to relax?

One of our favorite hiking spots is Cascade, but we do love the rare chance we get to head to Devil's Kettle. We also love to just wander around town on family walks.

Do you mind sharing a bit about your little ones?  What activities do they enjoy?  What is the biggest surprise about becoming a parent that you and your husband did not anticipate?

Oh, of course! We have two kids: Taran, who will be four in December, and Cedric, who will be two in February. They're already so different! Taran is totally fascinated with building things (Legos have been a recent hit!) and obsessed with anything with wheels. Neither my husband nor I have ever particularly been interested in vehicles, but boy have we had to learn a lot to keep up with Taran! Cedric delights in listening to music and dancing (and will often tell us, when we hear a new song, "I like that song!"). Becoming a parent has been quite a journey, especially because we are 12+ hours away from our closest family and really entered into parenthood at the beginning of the pandemic. Honestly, I think the biggest surprise, though, has been just how tiring it is. Neither of our kids has been a "good sleeper," so we've spent about four years being pretty exhausted! Despite that, it has been so absolutely delightful becoming a parent. Also, I have to say, it's pretty special to have Taran in preschool in the same building as me--it's wonderful to be able to see him at his lunch every day!

With the upcoming holiday season, are there any childhood traditions that you grew up with that you still enjoy with your own family?

Santa was a big part of my childhood holidays, and we’re pretty excited to continue that with our littles. I also delighted in watching Rankin and Bass’s classic “Rudolph” and “Year Without a Santa Claus”, which my kids now love. And finally, we eat a delicious meal of Chinese takeout every Christmas Eve. Ha!


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