GRAND CROSSING — By now, Shauna Winston could be earning a six-figure salary had she chosen to pursue her dream of becoming a doctor.
Instead, Winston, 48, chose teaching as her profession. With 13 years of experience under her belt including the last six as a math teacher at St. Dorothy Catholic Elementary School, 7740 S. Eberhart Ave., the wife and mother of three said she made the right decision.
"I wanted to be a doctor until I got to college. That's when I started thinking about my future and how I did not want to be in school forever before I started my career," Winston said. "There is no doubt in my mind that I made the right decision when I became a teacher. It is what I love to do."
It was also in her blood — her mother is a retired Chicago Public Schools teacher.
A few years ago, Winston said students had to write essays about who inspired them to be the best they could be.
"That's when I knew God had placed me in this role as a teacher. Over two dozen students said I had inspired them. That touched my heart because a lot kids see me as their second mom, and I love all my kids," said Winston, who teaches six, seventh and eighth grades.
One of her favorite subjects to teach is math, which she said helps students gain common sense as they get older.
"As an adult you have to be able to make good decisions and if you are use to using critical thinking to solve problems, it helps when you get older," Winston said.
Winston said teaching gives her a fulfillment money cannot buy.
"If you are good at what you do, then eventually the money will follow," she said. "You cannot put a price tag on happiness."
The average starting salary for CPS teachers is about $50,000 a year, according to the Chicago Teachers Union, and Winston said most Catholic school teachers start off making half that.
A devout Catholic herself, Winston said there are some things she can do at St. Dorothy that are not allowed at public schools, such as talk about God. A better education is also afforded at Catholic schools, she said.
"My youngest son attended a public school prior to attending St. Dorothy and I was not satisfied with what he was being taught, and the lack of communication that existed between teachers and parents," she said.
About 180 students attend St. Dorothy, which is operated by the Archdiocese of Chicago and was founded in 1929.
Winston, who also doubles as an assistant principal and aspires to become a principal, has attended Catholic schools her entire life. She graduated from St. Thomas the Apostle Elementary School on the South Side, Seton Academy High School in South Holland and Xavier University of Louisiana. She is now pursuing a master's degree in Education at St. Xavier University, on the Far Southwest Side.
She resides in West Pullman with her husband, a Cook County deputy sheriff, her 17-year old daughter, a senior honors student at Perspective Charter High School on the South Side, and her 13-year-old son LeGrain III, who is among her seventh-grade students. She also has a 21-year old son in the Air Force.
"She can be hard on me sometimes but I understand why. I am not treated any different than other student," LeGrain said. "The only thing I hate is when people ask me what grade they got on their test when I don't even know because my mom does not tell me anything."
Indeed, Winston admits to being harder on LeGrain.
"I love my son and love riding to school with in the mornings," Winston said. "But he knows I do not play and the way I treat him at school as his teacher is the same way I he is treated at home. He knows it is for his own good."