MAT Rock Star Professor Jean Harezlak
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  • Title: Education Unit Head, Education Department Chair, Associate Professor, Interim Masters in Teaching (MAT) Director
  • Hometown: Rockford, Ill.
  • Degrees: Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology and Master of Teaching (Rockford University), Education Specialist (Northern Illinois University)
  • Years at RC: 2

When Jean Cacci Harezlak ’72/’76, interim MAT director, is asked what called her to be a professor at Rockford University, her answer is simple: "For me, it’s returning home.”

After receiving her degree in Anthropology from Rockford University, Jean began her career in public education. Bolstered by her RU master’s degree two years later and other advanced study, she spent a majority of the next 39 years as a principal or superintendent. Soon after retirement, she felt compelled to teach. This time she chose adult learners. "It is so affirming for me to work with students who share an established passion for teaching,” she says.

The small class sizes in the MAT program allow Jean to challenge students with a rigorous curriculum, as well as assist them in selecting their specialties. Jean explains, "We are able to help guide students to what they want; from securing a teaching position or endorsement, to helping them be effective for their students.”

A student at heart, Jean reveals the secret to her approach. "Learning is fun! I love teaching adults because I’m always learning from them,” she says. When asked about her favorite advice to students, she shares, "If you’re not having fun, get out. In my classes, I try to ‘walk my talk’ and have fun, because if I’m not having fun, then I shouldn’t be here either.” That is why Jean is a Rockford UniversityRock Star Professor.

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