Teaching may be no garden party for some, but it’s growing on Hanke

Teaching may be no garden party for some, but it’s growing on Hanke 
November 8, 2011

Phil Brozynski
(630) 829-6094

Lisle, Illinois ~ Some people leave the classroom to visit the Chicago Botanic Garden. David Hanke left the garden to work in a classroom.

Hanke teaches Biology, Earth Science and Physical Science to freshmen and sophomores at DeLaSalle Institute in Chicago. He previously designed, installed and maintained exhibitions at the Chicago Botanic Garden after working in the exhibit productions department at the Field Museum making models, replicas and landforms.

But it was Hanke's love of coaching youth soccer that prompted him to return to the classroom as a student so he could return to the classroom as a teacher.

"I loved to coach, and it was while coaching I realized that I was a teacher without a classroom," he said. "I also came across a man whose daughter I had coached a number of years before. He told me that she still loved playing soccer and still talked about how I was her favorite coach.

"I saw that I was having a positive influence on both my players and their parents," Hanke added. "I wanted a chance to have this positive influence on a daily basis, and then decided that my calling was in education."

Hanke earned a bachelor's degree in Biology in college where he minored in Fine Arts. But he did not have the certification to teach in Illinois. That is why he turned to his alma mater, Benedictine University, and the Alternative Certification Program.

Benedictine's Alternative Certification Program provides an eight-week intensive summer training program with an individualized mentor who guides students toward teaching success. Graduates earn an initial teaching certificate and a paid one-year internship through the school district of hire. More than 96 percent find employment within one year of completion.

 "My experience with the professors at Benedictine University made going back an easy choice," Hanke said. "In looking at the Alternative Certification Program specifically, it was the fast track method that was very appealing. Because I have a family, the ability to get my Type 09 (Illinois Teaching Certification) license in a year was definitely the path for me."

Hanke also found the mentorship he received from the professionals associated with Benedictine's Alternative Certification Program invaluable.

"The mentors of the program are another reason for my success," he said. "They are very knowledgeable and experienced educators themselves. The mentor program helps each student become comfortable, confident and successful in the classroom."

Hanke understands and appreciates the challenges he faces, but hopes that each student gains a little more appreciation for the sciences than they had before stepping into his classroom.

"I know that not every student will enjoy a science class like biology as much as I did when I was in school, but I would like for each of my students to come away with a respect and appreciation for our environment," he said. "I would also hope that each of my students will recognize that science is a process, not a body of knowledge.

"The steps in the process of learning science are very much the same as the steps in learning about art," he added. "Most students are surprised about this, but definitely see the connections when they are finished with my class."

Meanwhile, Hanke is personally happier and professionally more fulfilled in the classroom.

"Sometimes the fulfillment comes from an email written from a parent thanking me for helping their child succeed in a science class where they consistently had difficulty," he said. "More often, it is something as simple as having a student who had resigned themselves with poor performance and I have found a way inspire them to turn in homework or study for a quiz.

"It seems so simple, but it really is a big deal to me," Hanke added.

Among the steps students who are interested in the Alternative Certification Program should take prior to the start of summer 2012 classes are: having one's college transcripts reviewed; sitting for a content test administered by the Illinois Certification Testing System; and arranging a meeting with the program director to discuss preparations for the job search.

If you are looking for personal satisfaction, are ready for the challenge of teaching math or science to students in grades 6-12 and want to make a difference in the lives of young people, contact Alternative Certification Program director John Zigmond at (630) 829-1364.


Benedictine University is located in Lisle, Illinois, just 25 miles west of Chicago, and has branch campuses in Springfield, Illinois, and Mesa, Arizona. Founded as a Catholic university in 1887, Benedictine enrolls nearly 10,000 students in 56 undergraduate and 19 graduate programs. Forbes magazine named Benedictine among "America's Top Colleges" for the sixth consecutive year in 2016. Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (hlcommission.org). For more information, contact (630) 829-6300, admissions@ben.edu or visit ben.edu.