Teaching is not a casual profession. People do not choose to go into education because it’s easy, or because the hours are good. They choose to become teachers because they want to make an impact, they want to help shape the future. Case in point: Sarah Verpooten, Publications Advisor for Lake Central High School, who enjoys seeing young people grow.
“I will have the same students for several years,” says Verpooten. “They start as nervous freshmen, then grow and eventually become leaders by senior year, leaders who are invested in a product, invested in helping other kids coming up. It’s neat to see them grow in that way.”
A former psychology teacher, she says that teaching the Publications curriculum - comprising of a mixture of the school’s social media sites, website and broadcast media - to students is “like a massive school conglomerate.”
“It’s like organized chaos, with so many different things going on all at once, so many different kids moving in so many different directions,” says Verpooten of the group of 11 public relations interns.” They do the social media updates for the school. They visit all the different buildings, take pictures and write stories to keep parents informed and involved with the school. They also live stream all the major events here at the high school so long-distance people can see them. They’re pretty independent. They’re kids that I’ve had for a while, and the interesting thing is that it’s an internship, not a class, so it’s more like, ‘Go! Do this! We’re trusting you with the whole school corporation.’”
A graduate of Munster High School, she attended Franklin College, near Indianapolis, where she graduated with degrees in journalism, education and advertising, with a minor in psychology. A native of Illinois, her family moved to Munster when she was nine years old. She currently lives in Lakes of the Four Seasons with Dustin Verpooten, her husband of 13 years and their sons Miles, 10, and Drew, 5.
Verpooten has taught at Lake Central for 16 years, beginning her career there right out of college. She originally intended to major in journalism, but discovered a passion for teaching while in college and likes the idea of long-term teaching relationships with her students
“I will have these students for multiple years. I get to know them very well, and because you are working on a product together rather than just learning information to a test, you get to understand their life better. That’s when I decided to make it a career,” says Verpooten, who also teaches journalism and freshman photography, which she feels should be a life skill.
“Everybody needs to know how to do that,” said Verpooten. “Everybody should learn how to take better photos.”
When she’s not at school, Sarah is active in state and national journalism education associations and even sings in the choir at Bethel Church in Crown Point, but says that she spends most of her free time with her family.
“My kids are very active,”says Verpooten. “They’re both in soccer and take piano lessons. They’re in church programs, so that keeps me pretty busy.”
Verpooten enjoys living in Lakes of the Four Seasons, and says that her family particularly enjoy the lake there during the summer.
“There are a number of different cultures that come together here,” says Verpooten, who likes the diversity she finds in Valparaiso and northwest Indiana. “It’s a great place to see and experience all these little pieces of our world, right here in our backyard.”
She feels that those reasons and more make northwest Indiana a great place to raise children.
“You’re close to the city, close to the beach. You have so many different regions, all wrapped up in one.”
Sarah says that she also likes the local festivals, particularly the Lake County Fair.
“That’s sort of our last hurrah of the season, right before we all go back to school.”
Verpooten enjoys travel and says she hardly visits the same place twice.
“It’s important to see the world, to see more than just what’s here. I think that’s important, it’s something that we hope to instill in our kids. Getting out of your comfort zone is a very good thing.”
“Swaziland was amazing! I got to go there and help plant gardens for people’s homes there. Food sustainability is a serious issue there, so that was significant to me.”
She also spent time in Germany while in college, a trip she credits with helping her to shape her understanding of politics and how they shape the world.
Her favorite movie?
“I love Harry Potter!” says Verpooten. “I’ve read every book in the series at least six times!”
Of course. It only makes sense that someone who has dedicated their life to teaching would be fond of a story set inside a school - albeit one that teaches wizardry and witchcraft.