Welcome Back Eagles!!!

Hello all! I’m really excited to be your teacher this year! We have a lot of learning to do. Our time together will go quickly, but I hope you are able to take what we learn in my classroom with you and apply it beyond our four walls.

This week we will take some time to set expectations that will keep our learning on track and hopefully help us to get to know each other better. Expectation #1. I will use this site to communicate with you and your families as we work together to reach your educational goals, so I expect that you will check it regularly.

Please remember, to bring your composition notebooks to class so we can begin working in them right away.

Below I have included the letter that we read in class today so that you could use it as a model as you write your letter to me. Please make sure you read it!!!

See you tomorrow!!!

Dear English II students,

Welcome to your sophomore year of English!  I am excited for the year ahead: we will read wonderful novels and poems, analyze films, have thought provoking discussions, research important issues, share our own stories, express ourselves creatively, and grow as readers, writers, and thinkers.

For those of you who don’t know me, I’d like to introduce myself. For those of you who do know me, keep reading I have a lot more to say this time around!  This is my 6th year at Hancock College Preparatory High School and I love teaching here.  Some of my favorite things to do include being with my family, especially spoiling my nephews and nieces (I have quite a few and you will hear about them often), reading good books, writing in my journal, hanging out with my pets Duchess, my Pomeranian, and Duke, my ally cat, and spending time with my friends.  I was born in Naperville, which is a suburb just west of Chicago, but I grew up in Palos Hills. Then, I went to University of Illinois at Chicago to get a degree in English. After that, I moved to California to pursue a career in writing. While I was there, I got to work with kids as a classroom aide and that was when I decided to move back “home” to Chicago so that I could become a teacher full time teacher.  While I was earning my Masters in Education at Dominican University, I taught English language learners in the southwest suburbs.

During my time at Hancock, I have had the honor of watching Hancock grow from a little neighborhood school to the gem of the Southwest side.  I have taught English at every grade level. I run our Culinary Club and Build On. I also belong to the Wellness team and Literacy team. This year I have the privilege of Coaching Cheer-leading. I truly enjoy working with the students at Hancock and I hope to get to know each of you as well as I can.

A little about me as a teacher: I believe the purpose of education is power.  Getting your education is an investment and it will open up so many possibilities for you economically (I just learned, for example, college graduates earn 66% more on average than high school graduates. Did you know that?)   However, like the other teachers at Hancock, I believe education should be more than just “learn-to-earn.”  I believe the purpose of education is to open your mind and your heart, take control of your life and your own decisions, become a better person, be an active participant in our society, and maybe, just maybe, change the world!  I hope this course will not only prepare you for your future, but also help you discover you.  One of the most important things I always want students to know about me as a teacher is that I am on your side.  That doesn’t mean I will be “easy” on you (in fact, often the opposite) but know that everything I do as a teacher is because I care deeply about my students and want the best for them.

Often my favorite teachers were teachers who challenged me, but who I always knew were on my side.  One of my favorite teachers was my 7th and 8th grade English teacher Ms. Kavoras. In her class, we were always writing.  Although I wasn’t the best student in her class, with every assignment Ms. Kavoras would write me notes and give me feedback. She graded tough, but it made me work harder and allowed me to grow as a better, more concise writer. Her notes were always encouraging and constructive.  As she worked with me, I grew more confident in my writing and in myself.

I remember we had to make a portfolio of all our writing from the year. We had to keep all our assignments and improve our favorite pieces. I spent a week reviewing her notes and using her suggestions to make my work better. At the end of the year, she submitted all the best portfolios to the district. I had no clue she chose my portfolio. I won 3rd place in the district for creative writing and I was so surprised. At the end of the awards ceremony, she told me something I will never forget. She said, “All year, you have been your own worst critic. You never realized how talented you were because you were always looking at the things you did wrong. Sometimes you need someone outside of yourself to show you all the things you do right, so you can see how amazing you are to everyone else.”  This has been my mission with all my students. It is easy to look at the negative things in your life and think you can’t change, but the more you learn, the more you know about yourself and what you can handle. When you educate yourself, you quickly realize that you are worth something and that you deserve the best.  Sometimes you don’t realize how awesome you are, and I truly believe it is part of my job to show you.

So that’s a little about me.  Now, your turn.  Write me back.  Write at least a one page letter.   In your letter, introduce yourself as I did.  Tell me about:

  1. yourself as a person (For example, where are you from?  What do you love to do?  Who are the people that are most important to you?)
  2. yourself as a student (For example, what do you think is the purpose of education?  What motivates you to come to school and work hard?  How would you describe yourself as a student?)
  3. a favorite teacher (For example, what did you like about that teacher?  What did you learn from that teacher, and/or why were they important to you?)


This is your first assignment, so impress me by writing a thoughtful and thorough letter.  I look forward to reading your letters, and to making the journey of this year with you.


  1. Complete your letter to me.
  2. Get a composition notebook.
  3. Leave a comment so that I know you read the webpage. You may write a question, tell me something we have in common, or simply tell me something about yourself. If you don’t want me to post your comment just let me know!

About jvpilar

Here's a little info about your teacher. I worked really hard to become your teacher. I went to UIC to get a degree in English, but decided to work as a writer in California. While I was there I realized I would rather work with kids than work in an office all day, so I decided to come back to Chicago and become a licensed, fully certified teacher. I earned a Masters Degree in Teaching and Education from Dominican University and got my first job at Hancock. During my 4 years at Hancock, I have taught English at every grade level. I started the Culinary Club and also sponsor BuildOn, both clubs do community service projects all over the city. I also have a cat named Duke that I rescued during one of our BuildOn service learning projects and a dog named Duchess.

44 responses to “Welcome Back Eagles!!!

  1. Natalia Garcia

    I had like my teacher from 7th and 8th grade also, I loved how she challenged me , and made me a better student.

  2. viviana alba

    Im glad to be in your class ms.pilar 🙂

  3. Charnette Nutall

    Have you taught anything else besides English while at Hancock or anywhere else?

  4. Carlos Mendez

    Yo miss pilar

  5. Adrian jesus Rodriguez

    I read the webpage

  6. Julian ruiz

    Hi, this is going to be my second year having u as a teacher hope it’s great again.

  7. Krishna Angulo

    I also looking forward to this year!

  8. Comment. Lol. I love your website

  9. Liliana

    I love how you pursue what you like and how your job is pretty much fun for you .

  10. Daniel Noriega

    Are we going to be using textbooks

  11. Feankie revilla

    Hello i was told to comment and what is the letter appose to be about

  12. Christian Ramirez

    Hi my name is Christian and I am very excited to be in this class my sophomore year. I am very excited to meet new people and do different activities with the class

  13. Cornelio fuentes

    I did my homework 😉

  14. Jacky Sosa

    Are you happy to be teaching one grade only or would you rather teach two?

  15. Alejandra Alanis

    How did you decide that you wanted to major in being an English teacher? Was it just cause of writing?

  16. Samantha Andrade

    Hey, do you like waffles?

  17. Erika Castillo


  18. Diana Garcia

    What made you leave UIC to go to California to be a writer?

  19. Maria corral

    Why didn’t you teach in California?

  20. Ezequiel Aranda

    I was born in Chicago, Illinois and It’s my second year at Hancock College Prep.

  21. mcoria4

    Hello im Monica Coria im in 3period English
    I’m new in this school I’m coming from Mexico (michuacan) I’m 16 years old I like playing soccer and watch Netflix and chill , I like going to party’s and having fun but also I like going to school and studying im responsible and I can understand what your trying to let !e know but only if its quit if not I don’t understand I get confused and frustrated when there’s so much noise.

  22. Aylin Paniagua(please don't show)

    We both have a few things in common one is I really do love also spending time with my friends.

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