Thumbs up for Litwiller

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Thumbs up for Litwiller

Cassidy Sutton, Staff Writer

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Being a substitute teacher isn’t usually a part of a person’s desired career path, but North substitute Alan Litwiller believes it should be. Litwiller is at school each day following his childhood dream.

In elementary school Litwiller’s class was divided into three groups: the blue jays, the robins and the crows. The blue jays were the academically gifted and the crows were just the opposite.

“I was what they considered a crow in my school,” Litwiller said.

Litwiller was over looked in elementary school, but when high school came around, he met someone who left an impact on his life.

“When I got to high school, I had a teacher named John Donovan who told me that I can make a difference,” Litwiller said.

Litwiller decided he would pursue his dream of becoming a teacher. He attended Illinois State University and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in teaching.

“A week after I graduated from college, I was then drafted to the war,” Litwiller said.

Litwiller went to Vietnam in June of 1971 and got out in May of 1973. He was stationed state side at Fort Detrick in Maryland which at the time was a chemical biological research base.

“I spent two days a week at the Capitol,” Litwiller said. “I even had my own parking spot there.”

When he was no longer a part of the war effort, he returned home in hopes of finding a teaching job. Unfortunately, no teachers were needed in the educational field at the time.

“There were no jobs because there were only two ways to stay out of the draft, either be married with children or become a full-time teacher,” Litwiller said. “Many men chose the teacher route even if they had no idea what they were doing.”

Thus, Litwiller went into the medical field and worked in nursing homes and hospitals from 1973 to 2015.

“I went into medical care because some people I met while I was in Washington offered me a job in that field,” Litwiller said.

In 1987 he moved to Plainfield because that’s where his wife was from. Both his children went to Plainfield Central and he wanted to do something for the town of Plainfield.

“I ran for the Plainfield School Board President because I wanted to give back to my community,” Litwiller said.

Towards the end of being the School Board President, Litwiller’s wife told him that he needed to go and pursue his dream.

“My wife told me I should go and do what I never got to do,” Litwller said.

He began by subbing for all Plainfield schools, but North stood out to him the most.

“There is something about Mr. Draper and the students; I just love all them,” Litwiller said.

Two years ago, Litwiller became a permanent substitute teacher at North. He is one of the first people here in the morning and one of the last people to leave after school hours.

“I remember that what drew me to him is how he connects with kids, how he cares about kids and his relationships with kids,” Principal Ross Draper said.

Ltiwiller wants to make a difference with the students at North just like one of his high school teachers did for him. He always has a smile on his face and interacts with everyone.

“Mr. Litwiller was my substitute teacher teacher’s aide for a couple of months in my sophomore English class, and he made an immediate impact on me,” senior Carter Thurman said. “He never failed to lighten my mood and he always made the class happy.”

Litwiller’s main goal while being a substitute teacher is to spread positivity throughout the students and staff.

“A simple pat on the back, fist bump, high five, or thumbs up can make a difference in someone’s day,” Litwiller said.

The staff members enjoy having Litwiller in the building because he brings happy and fun energy during school hours and at athletic events.

“He is at every basketball game cheering the students on,” Draper said.

North is important to Litwiller, and he likes to be involved not only during the school day but at after school events as well. He stays after to help in any way and to attend different athletic games as well.

“Before every game he would come and wish the team good luck and he was always our biggest fan,” Thurman said.

Every morning at 7:05 Litwiller is at school ready to be wherever he is needed. Whether it’s in a classroom, in the lunch room or in the gym, he will bring his trademark enthusiasm alongside.

“If I’m having a bad day, he can put a smile on my face,” Assistant Principal Stan Bertoni said.

Litwiller’s substituting methods are different from a regular substitute. He enjoys being there every day and he wants to be involved with students, staff and any activities North has to offer. Students connect with Litwiller and love when he subs in their class because of his personality.

“He is a great man and is the happiest guy I know,” junior Nate Simpson said.

Litiwller has shared his joyful personality not just throughout North, but all of District 202.

“Mr. Litwiller is one of a kind.  He cares about student and it shows.  He treats everyone like they are famous, and we are lucky to have him at Plainfield North and in District 202,” Superintendent Dr. Lane Abrell said.

Litwiller got to pursue his dream and even if it wasn’t exactly how he planned, he still gets to make a difference.

“I just love being here at North with the staff and the students,” Litwiller said.

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