The ability to empathize with students is a necessity for any teacher.
It’s an invaluable trait that H.C. Storm and Alex Gustafson School teacher Alexandra Piron has come to appreciate since her own time as a student in the Batavia Public Schools isn’t quite that far off.
Piron, who graduated from Batavia High School in 2017 and from North Central College last May, is in her first year teaching math at both district elementary schools.
“I actually went to H.C. so it’s kind of fun getting to teach here,” Piron, 23, said.
She’s not alone when it comes to Batavia High School graduates returning to teach in the district.
“I’d always hoped when I went into teaching that I’d end up back here, but I was not certain that I’d ever get a job at all in the district,” she said. “I’m just super grateful that I’m able to teach here my first year.”
Justin Allison, another Batavia High School alum, returned to the district as a way to give back to the community.
“As a student and a child growing up in Batavia, I knew this was a place that I wanted to stay and plant roots,” said Allison, who teaches world history and sociology at Batavia High School. “Because of everything that was given to me, and all the influential people, coaches, teachers that I had, I wanted to give back.”
Allison began substitute teaching at the high school in 2008 while looking for full-time work as a history teacher. In 2010, Allison landed a full-time job with the school as a special education teacher.
“Six years later a history department position opened up and I was able to get that,” he said.
Allison also is the head coach for track and field at Batavia High School.
Among Piron’s new coworkers are her parents, who also work within the district.
“My dad has been a teacher in the district for like 30 years now, and my mom works at the school as well,” she said. “It’s kind of like a family thing I guess.”
Piron’s father, Dennis Piron, teaches business classes in Batavia High School’s INCubator program.
“I think having your parents work in your high school definitely makes your experience a lot more unique than most people,” she said.
When she’s not teaching, Piron coaches the high school girls basketball team alongside her former coach, head varsity coach Kevin Jensen.
“I’m his first former player to come back and coach for him,” she said. “It’s fun for me to be around the girls because I’m fairly young so I can relate to them well.”
Both Piron and Allison said one of the highlights of coming back to teach in the district was the ability to work with some of their former teachers.
“I had really good relations with all of the teachers and coaches at the school,” Piron said. “I think they’re kind of really what inspired me. I just knew that was something I really wanted to do with my students.”
“Teaching democracy and what does it mean to be a part of our democracy, that was instilled upon me by several influential history teachers that I’ve had,” Allison said. “Matt Holm, he was my seventh grade history teacher in middle school, and then I want to say he transferred to the high school my sophomore or junior year. But he was a main influence.”
Allison said some of his former students and athletes have developed an interest in becoming teachers themselves.
“I have an athlete right now who is at Oklahoma State University. She’s having a fantastic career in college,” Allison said. “Her plan is that she wants to give back and coach track and field at some point after she’s done.”
Piron and Allison plan to continue teaching within the district.
“It’s exactly where I want to be,” Piron said. “It’s like home for me.”
“My roots are planted here,” Allison said. “Being a Batavian to me just transcends place and time.”