My Why - Bari Bagby, Fourth Grade Teacher

November 2, 2022

Topic: My Why

Friends and family members of Bari Bagby would say she is full of adventure. She has traveled the world, documenting her experiences with photos, itineraries, journals, lists of things to see and even better places to eat. She loves to share her knowledge of globetrotting to help others see the world as she does. When she’s not on the road, Bari is at Longfellow Elementary School, sharing many of the same adventures she experienced, simplified for the level she teaches – 4th grade.   While she instructs all subjects to her students, she loves to share her passion for adventure through reading and writing. “I like to help my students learn through the love of reading.”  Some books she uses in class include: George Washington’s SocksI Survived the American Revolution and Revolutionary War on Wednesday. I love that I have the same group of students all day. It allows me to get to know their personalities better and deepen my connection with their families,” said Bari. 

Bari received her bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Michigan State University; her master’s in curriculum and instruction from NIU and a Type 75 certification from Concordia. In the beginning of her career, she taught 6th grade at Chicago Public Schools for 4 years. Then, she moved to Arizona for her husband’s job where she worked at a private school. Returning back to Illinois, she began her career with District 21 at Holmes Middle School where she taught 8th grade for 9 years. Following that assignment, she then moved to Cooper Middle School where she taught Accelerated Language Arts (ALA) for 10 years. It’s no surprise that she’s so attached to the district. As an alumna of Riley and Cooper, she felt comfortable in a place she can land after all her travels. “I have great memories of the district and wanted to come back home to create positive experiences for my students,” said Bari. And that she did. 

One of her favorite activities to do with students is to have them create a “feel good folder.” Students decorate a folder any way they want. Throughout the year, they will place items in the folder that make them feel good, like a great grade on an assignment or a nice note from a friend. While working on adjectives, Bari asked each student to describe – in one word – each classmate in the room. She compiled the list and handed out the list of adjectives that each student received. “Sometimes, students aren’t very confident about their abilities. But when they get this document back and see that many of their classmates think they are ‘smart’… or ‘funny’… or ‘talented’… they start to believe it,” said Bari. “It’s not just about academics. It’s much more than that. It’s about making students feel valued so they have a safe environment to learn and grow – with a little bit of adventure thrown in!”