the Pacific Crest Trail from Mexico to Canada, a 2,500
mile trek for five months in 2004. It was during that time he
decided teaching is what he really wanted, so went back to NIU
and earned a masters in English with a certificate in education,
using student loans to finish his schooling.
Greg Locascio always had it in the back of his mind to
become a teacher, although he took a detour into journalism and
then long-haul trucking.
Greg earned a journalism degree at Northern Illinois
University, then spent two years on the staff of the Antigo,
Wisconsin, daily newspaper before he and his wife, Esther, quit
their jobs and spent seven months hiking the Appalachian Trail.
He returned to newspapering for a year at the Beloit Daily News,
but realized reporting and the long hours involved werent
Since they had no family or home mortgage, the couple
went on another adventure, this time hiking
Greg Locascio in the cab of his 18-wheeler. He covered
46 states during his eight years on the road, driving nearly
a million miles. (Provided photo)
His first teaching job had him split between two schools
in the same district: ninth grade English in Elgin and middle
school language arts at Streamwood. But then the recession hit
and first year teachers were laid off, including Greg. He tried
finding another full-time position for about two years, struggling
to make ends meet.
It was then he turned to his backup plan. Truck driving
paid well and jobs were plentiful, so he enrolled in the truck
driving classes at Kishwaukee College in Malta and soon got his
commercial drivers license. Immediately after he was hired
by U.S. Xpress and went on the road, eventually driving through
46 states over an eight-year period. He drove an 18-wheeler with
a sleeper cab, pulling a 53-foot box trailer. His cargo included
items such as candy, diapers, canned pumpkins, bales of paper
and engine parts.
Asked what the benefits of driving trucks are, he
said independence no boss looking over your shoulder and
the ability to pick your assignments. He said he got more of
an education during that time than he did in college. I
kept a journal and in one year alone, I had listened to 136 audio
books and read 35 books, he said.
He had lots of spare time, sleeping in his truck and
often waiting hours for the shipments to be loaded. Downsides,
he said, included being away from home weeks at a time, sometimes
only seeing his family four or five days a month. They had to
use computer programs to see each other. Also there are dangers
driving a big rig in city traffic and in areas where there may
be low overhead bridges and narrow streets that dont allow
room to squeeze through or turn around. This caused a lot of
stress, he said. His wife was super supportive all
during this time, managing their affairs at home and caring for
their son, Jon, who is now 13.
So a year ago, he made the decision to spend the $600
to renew his teachers license, taking a chance there would
be a job out there for him. He said the irony was that he had
nearly paid off his college loan and so taking a pay cut of $15,000
a year from being a trucker to teach again was possible. He began
applying for positions within 100 miles of Sycamore and was fortunate
to land one this fall at the Northbrook Middle School in Mendota
as an eighth grade language arts teacher. At first he worried
about what the kids would think about a middle-aged man whose
background was truck driving, but he found his students respectful
and willing learners. He added that his teaching team has also
been supportive and helpful.
Not many people could take the leap from trucking
to teaching at age 46, but Greg did it and loves being back in
the classroom. Of course spending more time at home with his
wife and their teenage son is also a big plus.