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As told by Sharon Balderas, West40 Education Licensure Specialist

“When parents or the general public think about the life of an educator, they probably imagine a lot of time spent at school, interacting with students, attending after-school events and things like that. What they probably don’t realize is that each of those educators are licensed professionals who are responsible for keeping their own licenses renewed. Without licensed educators, the whole business of a school would grind to a halt.

Today’s educators are juggling so much every day, and sometimes they just forget about the need to stay updated with their licenses and endorsements. Or for an older educator, they might struggle with so much of the licensure information being digitized and hard to sort through on the state’s online portals. That’s where West40 comes in.

We see ourselves as a lifeline for the educators in West Suburban Cook County. West40’s mission statement talks about walking alongside the people that we serve, and that’s such a good description of what we do with licensure.

As one of our licensure specialists, I do everything from answering quick questions on the phone to hosting educators in our office and walking them step-by-step through what they need to do. Licensure is so complicated and complex, and I can’t tell you what it means to our educators to have a real human being who can give them live assistance with these stressful issues. Often, instead of replying to an email I pick up the phone and just call the person to give them answers right away. Sometimes people are shocked that we care enough to provide such quick assistance. But I’m a service-oriented person.

We try to save all the thank you cards that we get from educators. One of my favorite ones says, ‘Thank you for your time and patience in helping me with my license. Please know I would have been lost without your guidance and professionalism. Your many kindnesses along the way made the process so easy.’

That’s what it’s all about for us—transforming a process that’s difficult and complicated into one that’s kind, respectful and pleasant. My job is to make those connections with people and I feel blessed to be able to come to work every day.”


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