Subaru Helping Schools and Students in Need

Across the country, millions of students lack the supplies and learning materials they need to be successful in the classroom. Through Subaru Loves Learning, Subaru and participating retailers are partnering with to provide teachers across the country with flexible funding to purchase the school supplies and resources they need to help their students thrive in the classroom. Learn more at #SubaruLovesLearning

Meet some local Subaru owners who love to teach

Subaru Stories: A teacher, a coach, a Subaru driver

It takes a special person to teach special ed. Meet Brittany Bertani. A seventh-grade special ed teacher at Channahon Junior High in Channahon, Illinois, she sees kids with a wide range of skills, from mild learning disabilities to severe autism. And she loves it. “School is just hard for them and it’s hard for their parents,” Brittany says. “I get to be that advocate and that voice for them. I’ve had all different levels.” 

Teaching seventh grade special ed is just one part of her day. When the bell rings, she’s usually headed to coach cross country and track, assist with the basketball team or lead the school’s student council. “I get to form these relationships with kids that I would never see throughout the day,” she says. “At this age, you form the best relationships through coaching. Then because they already trust you as a coach, you’re the person that they go to if they need someone. I still talk to my coaches from junior high and high school.”

This three-sport athlete always wanted to be a teacher—just not middle school. “I loved writing on whiteboards,” she says. “I was the kid in fourth grade who begged my teachers to let me grade their papers and clean the boards.” She double-majored in elementary education and special ed, but when she student taught— also at Channahon—she realized her personality was a perfect fit for junior high. “I’m a very sarcastic person, and they’re at the age where you can banter with them, and form relationships,” Brittany says. 

She and her husband, Bryan, are newer Subaru converts. Their first Subie is their current Forester, which they picked for both the size and the safety features. “It’s perfect for when I’m coaching and I need to put bags in the trunk. There’s so much room,” she says. “It’s a good car for people that have a lot of life going on. It has everything you need.” Her Subaru Forester also has a few features that make her school day much easier—especially in the height of summer, or the depths of winter. “Doing remote start from my classroom or practice is a godsend,” she says. “And heated seats. It’s a luxury and I’m never going back.”

Brittany describes herself as someone who can’t sit still, so when she’s out of the classroom—and away from her coaching duties—she’s living life to the fullest, with help from her Forester. She loves taking her dog, Rigby, for a walk, going on a hike, or spending time near water. “We live on the Kankakee River, my aunt has a pool and our friends live on a lake, so we’re always on the water,” she says. Fortunately, Brittany’s Forester ensures she has everything she needs to get from point A to point Z—and every place in between.

Subaru Stories: From the classroom to the stage — with a few other musical stops along the way.

As a music teacher and band director for District 65 in Evanston, Illinois, John Carroll needs one thing: a reliable car. That’s because he spends his days jetting between three schools in the district, bringing his passion for music and technical know-how to hundreds of elementary and middle school students. “I’ll have morning band rehearsal at one school, then go teach at another,” John says. That’s where his Subaru Forester comes in. It ensures that he and his many supplies get around safely. “We got the brass instruments cleaned and I had to pick them up, so I put my seats down and loaded up two tubas, three trombones, and two trumpets,” he says.

John has always loved music, and when he studied it at Eastern Illinois University, he was faced with a choice. “They ask, ‘do you want to get your performance degree, or your education degree?’” He explains. “I thought practically. An education degree would at least allow me to have a job.” His position allows him to share his love of music with the next generation—it’s just a bonus that he picks up a few things along the way. “I love working with kids and sharing the love of music, introducing them to that world,” he says. “It’s my duty to pass it on. But I’m always learning about new music—they’re always sharing their favorites with me.” 

When it came time to get a new car, John knew exactly what he wanted: a Subaru Forester. “I needed more room, and I wanted a car that sat up a little bit, where I wouldn’t hit my head.” (John is 6’2”.) “I know a lot of people who drive Subarus, and they just love them. It has such a good reputation of being a real workhorse.”

In his off time, music still takes center stage. John is a drummer in two bands—post-punk band Paper Mice and rock-and-roll marching band Mucca Pazza–and rehearses with both weekly and plays an average of a show a month. In fact, a live show offered the chance to bond with his Subaru dealer, Nick Fisher. “During the process of buying the Forester, he was asking about me and I mentioned I played in bands and that we had a show,” John says. “It was the middle of winter, and he came to the show and brought his friends! So now we’re buddies.” 

John also helps his wife, Dana (also a teacher), in the garden of their Portage Park home, and spends time golfing and watching sports—especially the Cubs and Notre Dame. (He is from South Bend, Indiana.) But rest assured that wherever he’s going, he’s got the perfect soundtrack. 

“Music is an extension of who I am,” he says. “I’m just lucky to be able to do what I do and make my living off it, but also get to play for fun.”

Subaru Stories: From field to court and back again

Annie Millman was destined to be a teacher. “I started working with kids in high school, I was teaching at preschools part-time through college,” Annie says. “It was kind of inevitable.” Now, she’s a sixth-grade English language arts teacher at Northbrook Junior High, where she’s been since she filled in for a maternity leave 16 years ago. “My school is amazing, my district’s great. I was immediately like, ‘I need a full-time job here.’” 

While she’s taught seventh and eighth grades throughout her tenure, her current role as a sixth-grade teacher is her favorite. “It’s a unique age because when they come in, there’s still elementary kids,” she says. “They’re sweet and want to do well. But it’s a huge transition. You have to teach executive functioning skills, like how to open your locker, how to get to class on time. But you see kids who are ready for that stage, and they just flourish. It’s definitely cool.” 

Annie is a Subaru veteran. Her husband Josh had an Outback when they first got together in high school, and that car was an outlet to adventure through college and beyond. “We took that car everywhere, all the concerts, all the camping, everything.” When they moved back from California, and Annie needed to commute to work from Evanston, she got a Subaru Forester, which she had for almost 10 years. “Our kids were babies in that car,” she remembers fondly. So when it was time to upgrade, Subaru was the obvious choice. “Four years ago, I heard about this new model—the Ascent. Our kids were getting older, we were starting to carpool and do more. The third row is phenomenal.” She also cites the safety features as one of her favorite things about the Ascent, namely the all-wheel drive. “Especially in Chicago winters,” she says. 

These days, Annie and her family are as active as ever—their adventures just look a little different. “Our kids play all the sports, all the time,” she says. “That’s really what we do.” She drives all over the area bringing her seventh-grade daughter and fifth-grade son—and their teammates—to basketball and baseball practices, games and tournaments. “They’ve made good friendships, they’ve learned team building skills, and it builds their confidence. There are so many benefits.” The trunk of their Ascent is usually packed with sports gear, but you’ll occasionally spot a bag of coffee beans or a box of paper cups from Josh’s company, Passion House Coffee Roasters, which has locations in Logan Square and on Goose Island. 

Not only is Annie a devoted Subie driver, she’s also happy to share the joy with others. “The three families I’m carpooling with for camp all have Subarus,” she says. “One of the families, I raved about ours so much that they went and got one when they were looking for a new car.”

Subaru Stories: Into the Woods

Sarah Stumme says that visitors to her kindergarten classroom at Washington Elementary School in Evanston are always a little surprised at how intelligent and capable kids are at that age. “Kindergarteners are incredibly smart—much more than people think,” Sarah says. “Their vocabulary is so high level, and they’re always comparing and contrasting. They love to own knowledge and teach everyone what they know. Even though I know this, it still blows me away every year.”

Sarah grew up in Scotland, then came to the US when she was 25 to work as a camp counselor. “It was the Thatcher era, and there were no jobs back home for graduates,” she says. She met her husband, Simeon—also a teacher—and moved with him to California. While she started as a school social worker, after a stint teaching, she realized that’s where she belonged. “I think it’s more joyful to be in the classroom than in some of the social work experiences I had experienced.” 

It was while living in California that Sarah discovered her love for Subarus. “Simeon and I went up and down the west in that car—Grand Canyon, Rice Canyon, Redwood National Forest, lot of national parks,” she lists. “We did tons of camping. We could pack everything in there—you could sleep in it if you needed to.” (Her pro tip: pack everything in laundry baskets, so you can flee a campsite quickly during a thunderstorm.) Sarah and Simeon relocated to the Chicago area, had a daughter and a son (now 20 and 17), and when it was time to get a new car, they once again went Outback—only this time, for different reasons. “It has all that space, but is also safe for kids and drives in the winter,” Sarah says, noting the constant all-wheel drive. “Your car could be packed into snow and you’ll drive right out.”

Though her feet are planted firmly in Illinois, she’s still a Scottish girl at heart. “My heart really hungers for a countryside,” she says. That’s where her Subaru comes in. In her free time, Sarah and her family put their dog, Zola, in the truck of their Outback and head outside. They love to hike in the local forest preserves, head to the dog beaches at Lake Michigan, go camping or load bikes on a hitch and go mountain biking. Sarah also loves to walk Zola, hang out with her neighbors—often at their local brewery, Sketchbook Brewing Company—and takes Pilates classes five times a week. 

She’s sharing that Subie love with the next generation, too. “When it was time to get my daughter a car, we looked for a Subaru and got a great 2010 Forester,” she says. Some things just run in the family.

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This article has been supplied by Subaru, a paid advertiser. The editorial staff of Chicago magazine had no role in this post’s preparation.