For 24 years, Carolyn Lee McKee-Freese served the public school system with honor, devotion and skill. Having the opportunity to teach was a dream come true, as she loves sharing knowledge with others. She prepared for her endeavors by earning a Bachelor of Education from North Illinois University in 1969 and by becoming a certified teacher in Illinois. The degrees propelled Ms. McKee-Freese to become an art teacher at Simmons Junior High School immediately following graduation, where she stayed for three years. After that, she worked as a substitute teacher at Moose Heart School for a year and as an art teacher at Yorkville District High School for 20 years.
Although Ms. McKee-Freese has since left the public sector, she remains committed to education. She currently using her background and expertise as a private contractor in the education department of the Chicago Field Museum, where she has been since 2002, and as the visual art curriculum developer for Yorkville District 115, where she has been since 1990. She also holds membership with the Illinois Art Education Association, the Illinois Artisans Program and the Guild of Natural Science Illustrators. Over the years, Ms. McKee-Freese has found a variety of mediums, through which she can express herself in addition to academia. She has published artwork in exhibitions at the Norris Gallery, the Ironwood Gallery of the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum, the Sprague Gallery, Aurora University, the James R. Thompson Center Atrium and the New York State Museum in Albany, among other places. She was also an art contributor to the Life Over Time Exhibit at the Chicago Field Museum, and was an art show judge at regional shows and fairs. Further, Ms. McKee-Freese has been published in Nature Magazine, Natural History Magazine and the British Journal of Paleontology. She has authored the likes of “A Popular Guide to the Nature and the Environment of the Fossil Vertebrates of New York” and “Papers in Paleontology.”In recognition of her achievements, Ms. McKee-Freese received a variety of accolades. She was named Teacher of the Year by Yorkville High School students in 2006 and 2007, Most Influential Educator for several years between 1996 and 2007 and Educator of the Month by Coco-Cola Co. in 1995. Further, Ms. McKee-Freese was honored to be featured in numerous editions of Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in the World and Who’s Who of American Women.
When Ms. McKee-Freese isn’t working, she enjoys horseback riding, hiking, bird watching and paleontology. She also likes to teach scientific illustrations at summer camps for children; she thinks combining nature and art is fascinating. If she could offer some advice to the younger generations, it would be to find a passion and pursue it, just like she did. She still finds joy in receiving letters and emails from former students thanking her for the life lessons they learned from her classes.