AT’s staff alumni share highlights of being “Blazers for life”

While many AT graduates say that they will be Blazers for life, it is especially true for some graduates. AT sports a high number of faculty members across multiple disciplines who once walked the halls as students. These faculty include Special education teacher Robert Daniels, Italian teacher Enza Spilotro, Head soccer coach Ryan Dini, former student council leader Sheri D’Ambrose, and even new principal Jack Andrews. All of these Blazers once participated in sports, clubs, and academics at AT, and are now helping out students who are going through a similar high school experience to what they once had.

While all of these staff members love AT and have a passion for its educational environment, it wasn’t necessarily the plan to come back and work there. For Dini, the opportunity fell into place.

“Addison has always been a special place for me.  I originally went to school for business but when I changed it to teaching,  I thought it would be really cool to go back to Addison Trail to teach.  I was offered a job right after college and I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to teach and coach at Addison Trail High School. 

For most teachers, however, working at AT was a goal for a long time.

“It was always my goal to get my degree and come back and teach and coach at AT with my head gymnastics coach Mr. Dennis, and I was so lucky to get to do both,” said D’Ambrose.

Daniels also had always wanted to work at his alma mater.

“I always had an idea of wanting to come back here and teach at the school I attended, I just did not know it was going to be so soon,” he said.

The staff are proud to be able to make new memories at AT, where many of their best memories from their teenage years were also made. Each recalled having fun with friends and poractipating in sports and clubs during their best moments at AT as students.

D’Ambrose said her best memories stemmed from becoming a state gymnastics champion. 

“Greatest memories  as a student; we had built a gymnastics dynasty, some would say back then and I was part of AT’s first State Championship teams. It was huge for the whole town, televised live back then on WGN, and I think the whole school was at our house that night for the after party including all of the AT administration. There were pictures of this in the newspaper of teenagers just flooding the street out front of our house, toilet papering the whole thing, and Nardis pizza was being served of course, even way back then.”

Dini’s favorite memory also came from athletic success.

“My greatest memory at Addison Trail as a student was winning conference, in soccer, 3 years in a row on Varsity,”  he said. 

His love of soccer has carried over and formed his favorite memory as a staff member. 

“My greatest memory as a staff member would be coaching a varsity team to the Sectional Final, in soccer, in 2016,” he said. “Thinking back to my high school days, these extracurriculars really opened up my eyes on what it takes to be on a successful team and joining clubs helped widen my circle of friends from all areas of the school,” he said.

Other top memories as AT staff included the way teachers and educators have been able to touch kids’ hearts in the classroom.

“My greatest memory as a staff member definitely has to be my first year of teaching. My first class ever was Principal Andrews graduating class,” said Spilotro. “I love being in the classroom, sharing my passion for my language and culture.”

D’Ambrose shared about a time when students dumped her in a shower. 

“As a gymnastics coach, we won another state championship by the slimmest of margins in state history. So much fun. They threw me in the shower fully clothed at Palatine High School after we won, and my children were little and talked about ‘remember the night they threw mommy in the shower’ forever,” she said.

For all of the staff, the at home feeling expands beyond the walls of AT. It spreads around the town of Addison, where they spent most, if not all of their childhood and upbringing.

Andrews said he felt particularly connected to his hometown, where he and his five siblings grew up.

“I grew up 2 blocks away from AT right across from where driscoll high school was and I went to stone school, went to Indian Trail, and then came to AT,” he said. “I was able to kind of grow up with Addison with all the changes that have happened with Addison Trail. My office right now, for example, is where a guidance office would have been when I went here. It continues to change.” 

After working with some of the staff at AT during his junior and senior years of high school, Andrews decided to get into education in college. He later ended up landing his first role at AT as a part time special ed teacher and then went full time the next year. Later he moved to District Office before returning to AT once again as this year’s new principal.

Andrews said that if he had to describe Addison in a word, he would choose “diverse.”

“It’s gonna be cliche maybe a little bit but Addison is diverse. Diverse thinking, diverse looking, diverse socioeconomic,” he said.  “You can be in Addison and interact with so many different people and there’s a mutual respect for that diversity too which is cool.”

Spilotro said that her one word description would encompass her upbringing. 

“Childhood. It was the place where I met my closest friends and created new relationships,” she said.

Daniels said that he would describe Addison as “blue collar.”

A blue-collared community is when you have adults and kids of all ages who aren’t given the most talent, aren’t given a lot of privileges that others receive, and have to earn what is given to them,” he said. “Addison is the definition of blue-collared. We have kids from different backgrounds and different lifestyles all trying to achieve the same thing. The things that these kids do both in school and out of school is tremendous and their hard working mentality is the reason why a lot of things happen in the school and in the community,” he said.

Ultimately, all of AT’s staff alumni are proud to bleed Blazer Blue. 

“AT will always have a place in my heart. It is where I went to school and experienced a lot of lifetime memories, created lifelong friendships, and was taught by teachers who truly care for their students and want what is best for them,” said Daniels. “It is a school where the community comes together and takes pride in who they are and who they want to be, and I am very grateful to be a part of a school that embodies such traits.”

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