Kruse's unknown passion

By Ben Aquino
Staff Writer
When Karen Kruse’s mother teased her  about becoming a teacher just like herself, she didn’t take it seriously. When she studied to be a dentist for the first two years of college, the last thing on her mind was taking up English courses of any sort.  Kruse took that route, and her mother’s jokes eventually became a reality.
Always having a love of reading at a young age, Kruse knew her share of literature, but she also wanted to study dentistry and possibly practice in that field. She then dropped her biology major to a minor in favor of an English major, aiming to become a teacher in literature and grammar. Kruse achieved that goal as she taught college courses at the Schaumburg Roosevelt campus towards the beginning of her career, two years at St. Viator, and eventually at Prospect.
As a college teacher, Kruse found herself bored with the same style of class, and did not enjoy it as much as she longed for a more interactive classroom experience.
“It was so boring,” Kruse said. “Just to teach grammar and writing, I wanted to talk about literature. Let’s read a book, and then talk about it.”
Kruse’s love of reading fueled her drive to become a literature teacher. It was a trait she developed at a young age, and still holds true now.
“I’ll read anything,” Kruse said. “I’ll read cereal boxes.”
Kruse prefers adolescent literature when she reads on her little to no free time so that she can be able to recommend books to people of all ages. Among some of her favorite things to read are the detective series written by J.K Rowling which includes Casual Vacancy, and Watership Down, by Richard Adams.
Though she loves to read at every possible moment, Kruse is usually hard pressed for time because she has to tend to her two children, Shane, 14, and Jolan, 12. Kruse, however, still finds a way to make her children read just like her, prodding her daughter on to read the books that she read as a child, like Little House on the Prairie, and the Nancy Drew series.
“I don’t know if it’s just a generation thing, like if it’s just dated,” Kruse said. “She just has no interest in them.”
Despite Kruse’s attempts to integrate her love of reading into the lives of her children, her son Shane sometimes complies to her begging to turn off his video games, and to sit down and read a book.
“If I can actually get him into something, he’ll just race through it,” Kruse said. “Then he’ll just want to go to the next one.”
Kruse’s son Shane is a freshman at Buffalo Grove, which tests her Prospect spirit since she lived in Mount Prospect herself. Since third grade, though she did go to Hersey for high school and now lives in Arlington Heights.
“I’m so confused over who I’m supposed to root for,.” Kruse said.
But Kruse shows that she truly has a home at Prospect with her involvement at school. As well as being a world literature and AP literature teacher at Prospect, Kruse is also the head sponsor of the J.A.M.M club, which is an anime and Japanese culture appreciation club. Upon the club’s original sponsor leaving, one of Kruse’s students approached her for the task after noticing her interest in the culture, to which she agreed. Though the many interests of the club such as anime, manga, and video games go over her head, Kruse still enjoys the Japanese holiday parties, origami making, and occasional Japanese language days.
“I’ve been inducted into the world of anime and manga,” Kruse said. “I was in college when all that stuff hit.”
Kruse is often referred to as a crazy and evil teacher, most of the time by herself. Though it is all in good intention, she realizes why her students think of her that way.
“I’m always awake in the morning when most people are not,” Kruse said.
Though she has a high level of enthusiasm, Kruse does not forget her colleagues and fellow teachers at Prospect. When first starting at Prospect, Kruse was still a bit fuzzy on the ins and outs of grammar, and how to teach the basic roots of it to high school students. So she requested help from Mr. Andrews, another English teacher.
“I made him give me sentences,” said Kruse. “And I would do them, he would correct them, and I would make stupid mistakes, and I would make him give me more sentences.” “It was sad because I had to learn it at the same time I was teaching it.”
Kruse attended Hersey at the same time as fellow English teacher and co-worker Mrs. Kreutzer, though Kreutzer admitted to not talking to her often.
“We didn’t really become friends until she started working here,” said Kreutzer. “When she did start here I was surprised because I had remembered her, and we were in the same neighborhood, we took the same bus.”
Though they were not in the same circles in high school, Kreutzer appreciates Kruse’s time at Prospect as a teacher.
“She’s a great friend and a valued colleague,” said Kreutzer. “We often taught AP literature together so I really love working with her.”
Appreciated by many at Prospect, Kruse also enjoys her life as a teacher
and interacting with her students and other teachers.
“I just love being able to joke around and work with great people,” said Kruse. “I love to have fun.”
“The people in this building are just marvelous,” Kruse said. “Whether it’s the teachers, or the support staff, or the students, everybody’s really great. This is a great environment.”