Emily Coombe

Emily Coombe

After 23 years teaching high school Language Arts and Communications, I am excited to diversify and facilitate Illini Prairie CEO. I believe educators are guides, helping students learn to learn, and the CEO program brings that style of learning to life. Whether students plan to go into the workforce, the military, or on to college after high school, I see CEO as a transformational experience, encouraging them to take chances and see failure not as failure, but as a sometimes necessary step towards success.

I was born and raised in Arcola, participating in as many sports, fine arts and clubs as possible. After Arcola High School, I went to the University of Illinois, earning my B.S. in Liberal Arts and Sciences, Speech Communication. I intended to go into Public Relations, having completed multiple internships, including a corporate internship in Nashville, as well as internships in entertainment PR. But, life had other plans for me.

Just after college, while job hunting, I was asked to help coach at AHS. I accepted, thinking it could be fun for a season, but still planned to go into PR and move to Nashville or Denver. After only a few weeks, though, I realized that I loved working with teens, especially in my hometown. So, I put my PR plans on hold, went back to college at Eastern Illinois University, and earned my teacher's certificate. I planned on teaching for 5-10 years, while I was young and enthusiastic. Twenty-three years later, I'm still enthusiastic.

After 18 years of coaching, I stepped away to pursue other adventures, like leading student travel to Europe, Washington, D.C., California, and New York City. I can often be found on the sidelines again, taking photos as yearbook advisor, or teaching students how to tell a story through photography. Whether it's travel or photography, my focus is on broadening students' perceptions of the world and themselves.

Outside of education, I freelance in public relations, branding, logo design, and social media marketing, as well as editing and publication creation. Other work experience includes retail, advertising, maintenance and landscaping. My family has also been farming for around 100 years.

I cannot imagine teaching anywhere else than here in Arcola. My goal is to foster curiosity and critical thinking skills in each of my students. But most of all, I want my students to know that growing up in a small town is not a handicap, and that they can go anywhere and do anything with the solid foundation a small town can help them build. Or, they can stay close to home and help their hometowns endure and thrive.

How do I measure success? For me, success is when a student realizes they have an abundance of options, and the education they receive helps prepare them to pursure whichever path, and however many paths, they choose. As facilitator, I will guide students, helping them learn to learn, but ultimately allowing them the freedom to both fail and succeed.