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### UWM Graduate Student Selected for Prestigious National Teachers Hall of Fame

Shelly Moore Krajacic is eager to express her passion for the field of education with a broader audience.

Amidst the obstacles and recent scrutiny faced by educators, she firmly believes that “Teaching is the single greatest profession there is.”

Krajacic, an educator at South Milwaukee High School and a graduate student in the Urban Education Doctoral program at UWM, was recently honored as one of two outstanding teachers in Wisconsin.

The organization she is affiliated with aims to highlight exemplary career teachers through an annual recognition program that garners public attention.

Early Aspiration to Teach

From a young age, Krajacic was certain about her desire to pursue a career in teaching.

“Both my parents and one grandparent from each side of the family are educators, so you could say it runs in the family,” she shared. Krajacic honed her teaching skills by instructing her younger brother and even her stuffed animals.

Although she briefly contemplated attending law school, her undergraduate exposure to classroom settings solidified her decision. “Once I gave teaching a shot, I knew it was my calling.”

With over 25 years of teaching experience, she commenced her career teaching drama at Ellsworth High School in northwestern Wisconsin back in 1998. For the past three years, she has been teaching junior and senior English at South Milwaukee. The school surprised her with a special ceremony on March 21 to celebrate her national recognition.

Krajacic obtained her B.S. in education with a focus on English, political science, and theater from the University of Wisconsin-Steven’s Point, and later earned her master’s degree in English Education from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls.

Embracing New Challenges

Following the birth of her daughter in October 2018, Krajacic decided to embark on the doctoral program at UWM during a break from teaching.

“I’m constantly seeking new challenges,” she expressed. Despite predominantly teaching in rural schools throughout her career, she felt compelled to explore a different environment. After thorough research on the program and faculty, she was drawn to the passion for education exhibited by the professors.

“Their dedication to education convinced me that this was the right path for me.” She attributes a significant part of her academic journey to her doctoral advisor, Candance Doerr-Stevens, an associate professor of teaching and learning.

Currently, Krajacic is in the process of obtaining the initial approval required for her doctoral thesis and aims to complete her doctorate by December 2025.

Thesis Rooted in Experience

Her doctoral thesis will delve into anti-racist education among prospective English language arts teachers, focusing on their self-perception as anti-racist educators and their understanding of the concept.

Her interest in this topic stems from personal experiences, including her selection of literature for an advanced placement English class. She questioned the criteria behind the inclusion of certain books over others.

Another pivotal moment was a query posed by a student during her early teaching years in a rural school district about the religion of Black Americans in the U.S.

“He genuinely sought clarification. While there is emphasis on teaching diverse values and cultures in urban settings, there is an equal need for such understanding everywhere.”

Advocate for Educators

According to Doerr-Stevens, Krajacic is a staunch advocate for teachers.

“Shelly Krajacic’s keen observation of educational policy trends and unwavering dedication to the field position her as a vocal supporter of teachers in urban and rural settings,” remarked Doerr-Stevens. “I eagerly anticipate witnessing her research further bolster equitable teaching practices and policies.”

Krajacic was nominated for the prestigious award by colleagues at South Milwaukee and former superintendent Jeff Weiss. She holds the district in high regard and finds immense fulfillment in teaching there.

While she meticulously plans her classes, it is the students who continually introduce elements of intrigue.

“I relish the unpredictability each day brings. Whether it’s challenges or triumphs, I am always intrigued by what my students bring to the table.”