Barrington 220 Staff Profile: Tom Bredemeier how the ceo-turned-educator found significance through teaching

Barrington High School computer science teacher Mr. Tom Bredemeier’s path to teaching was far from traditional. Growing up on the north shore of Chicago, his family owned a manufacturing company that he knew one day he’d become a part of.

“As I got into high school and college, it was sort of expected that I’d join the business. I got a business degree and that’s where I went,” he said.

Bredemeier spent 25 years working his way up the ranks of the family business, eventually becoming CEO. When the company was sold in 2003, everything changed. Not yet ready to retire, Bredemeier had to think through what he wanted to do with the rest of his life.

“I read a book called Halftime. The central concept of the book is that we spend half of our life looking for success and the second half of our life looking for significance,” Bredemeier said. “That was sort of my story. What’s going to last beyond me?”

“I read a book called Halftime. The central concept of the book is that we spend half of our life looking for success and the second half of our life looking for significance,” he said. “That was sort of my story. What’s going to last beyond me?”

Although a career counselor advised him not to go into the teaching profession, a close friend of Bredemeier’s convinced him it was a rewarding and interesting career.

Bredemeier's personalized teaching style allows students to choose the pace of learning that best suits their needs.

Bredemeier took his friend’s advice and started to explore what credentials he would need to become a certified high school teacher. Having an interest in history, he thought he’d become a social studies teacher, but eventually settled on mathematics.

The journey to getting certified wasn’t easy for Bredemeier. Over the course of a year, he made it his full-time job to head back to school in order to get certified in both mathematics and teaching. After his course work was finished, he went on to get his mater’s degree in teaching mathematics, which was another 18-month process.

Encouraging girls interested in computer science and coding to pursue their passion, Bredemeier is the sponsor of the BHS Club "Girl Code." The club was featured on CBS Chicago News in 2016.

Girl Code meets at 6:30 a.m. several times each month. Desipite the early start time, the meetings are packed with excited students eager to participate.

The Girl Code club posing with "Super Girl," a new character on CBS. This photo was taken during the media interview by CBS Chicago News.

Bredemeier connected with Barrington 220 School District at a job fair where he met Barrington High School’s then Principal, Dr. Tom Leonard. After applying for the job and going through two rounds of interviews, he landed a job as a math and applied arts teacher.

Bredemeier’s teaching role has expanded and changed over the years to include computer science and coding courses. A self-taught coder, taking on these courses has been an enjoyable experience for him.

“My experience here at Barrington has been very much like growing a business,” he said. “I really do appreciate the district. They have been very open and embracing to being on the leading edge," Bredmeier said.

“My experience here at Barrington has been very much like growing a business,” he said. “I really do appreciate the district. They have been very open and embracing to being on the leading edge.”

In 2014, he was given the opportunity to teach mobile app development through a partnership with Mobile Makers Academy. This was truly unchartered waters for a high school, and BHS would be the first school in the country to jump on board.

The mobile app development course taught by Bredemeier was featured on NBC 5 Chicago News. He is pictured here with two students, Mobile Makers CEO Jessi Chartier and NBC 5 Reporter Art Norman.

“Explaining the exponential growth in computer science enrollment, Tom Leonard and Steve McWilliams wanted me to consider Mobile Makers. That was very unusual for me because up until then, I had led the charge,” he said. “I remember going down three years ago to visit Mobile Makers and in the back of my mind, I was there to vet them. We clicked right away. Mobile Makers really appealed to my business sense. It’s a different kind of school and that’s kind of what we’re doing in here.”

In 2016, Bredemeier took on another new responsibility—becoming one of the high school’s first blended learning teachers. In addition, his classroom received a modern makeover with flexible learning spaces and a more inviting atmosphere.

“The kids are being really active in the new space, they are moving things around. They are exercising their student choice. I think it underscores a philosophy in how the class operates: You should want to be here," Bredemeier said.

“The kids are being really active in the new space, they are moving things around. They are exercising their student choice. I think it underscores a philosophy in how the class operates: You should want to be here,” he said. “The classroom should be an inviting place, come and sit where you wish. It’s not about the lecture happening, it’s about the collaboration with colleagues.”

Looking forward, Bredemeier has some very specific goals for himself. His intent was to teach for 20 years, and he’s halfway to that goal.

“I just want to do this really well for the next 10 years,” he said. “These kids are my legacy.”

“I just want to do this really well for the next 10 years,” Bredemeier said. “These kids are my legacy."
Created By
Morgan Delack
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