New English teacher at CHS brings film experience to Theater Club, productions

Chester School District 139 has several new teachers for the 2021-22 school year and one of them is Rana Hodge, who is bringing a background in filmmaking, photography and writing to the class.

Hodge teaches all second year English classes at Chester High School, is the sponsor of the CHS Theater Club and will direct CHS Theater productions.

“I really love our students. They are very intuitive, creative and friendly. The teachers and staff have been very welcoming and I’m really happy to be here,” she said.

Hodge spent his early years in Berwyn, a Chicago suburb, before moving with his family to Metropolis. His father, Randy, was a mechanic who picked up most of his skills in the US Army where he worked on tanks. Her mother, Jackie, works as a businesswoman and later began a career as a special education teacher.

Hodge says she became interested in film and writing at an early age and spent much of her time as a teenager involved in those interests. She graduated in 2006 from Massac County High School, where she played volleyball, saxophone, guitar and worked at Dairy Queen to save for college. His favorite classes in high school were English and biology.

Hodge spent a year at the University of Maine at Machias, where she won the “Dead Poets Society Award” for most promising writer.

After a year away from southern Illinois, she returned to the area to attend Shawnee Community College and graduated with an associate’s degree in 2008. She went on to earn a Bachelor of Arts in English and Creative Writing from the University. Grand Canyon University in 2010. During this time she also began working at the Metropolis and Carbondale libraries.

After college, Hodge began working for Consumer Grade Film Co., where she learned about set and still photography, and helped produce many local films and documentaries.

Hodge says her interest in teaching was sparked in 2016 when she listened to her mother speak at a panel at John A. Logan College about her passion for education. Her mother’s speech motivated her to pursue a career as a teacher, and in 2017 she began working on a master’s degree in education at McKendree University.

In 2021, Hodge completed his master’s degree in May, taught his first high school classes in Freeburg over the summer, then began his first full-time teaching assignment at CHS in the fall.

“I’m still trying to figure out everything about this new and exciting career, but it’s going well and I’m excited to be able to teach and influence my students.”

Along with being in the second semester of her teaching career, Hodge is finding her way as the director of her first high school play. Hodge and his drama club will present “Tuck Everlasting” next month.

The show will run at 7 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, March 17-19 and 2 p.m. on Saturday, March 19.

Currently, Hodge commutes from Pinckneyville, where she lives with her fiancé, Alex Fisher, and 2-year-old daughter, Glory. Fisher is director of the Pinckneyville Public Library.

Hodge still enjoys working with Consumer Grade Film Co. and has produced several films for festivals. People can check out his work and the company’s work on Instagram.

In addition to teaching and making films, Hodge enjoys following her fiancé’s band, Topple, around the region.

Hodge is pleased with her teaching experiences at the CHS so far and aims to revitalize the school library.