Judy Busey

Judy Busey ’62 was ahead of the curve in her teacher preparation at Illinois State (Normal) University.  Research has shown that pre-service teachers benefit from classroom involvement, and Busey was observing and working with students in Thomas Metcalf School and writing about teaching and students long before it was a best practice in the education field.

“While I was at Illinois State (Normal) University, I was able to spend time each year at Metcalf in first, second and third grade classrooms observing and working with individual or small groups of children,” Busey said.  “My education at ISNU prepared me well for my profession as an elementary teacher, and those classroom activities prior to my student teaching helped.  The more exposure student teachers have in the classroom, the better prepared they will be for the teaching profession.”

During her freshman year, Busey took a child development course, which had a requirement of observing in a classroom, choosing a particular student, and writing a paper on their education.  She also learned about teaching from Professors Wooley and Buehler who shared their own classroom experiences, and from Professor Gueffroy who taught organization by insisting that each student keep a notebook on class lectures.

Busey taught full-time in Pekin, Princeton and Belvidere before becoming mother to John and Jay Busey.  While raising her sons, she did a lot of substitute teaching. On one occasion, one of the boys she had taught was waiting outside the school building and asked Busey who she was teaching for that day.  It turned out to be his class, and he said “We’re having the shrimp sub today,” for which he earned a day in the principal’s office.  It turns out that Busey is “lucky to be five-foot tall” and the principal, who heard the comment, shared her height challenge.  After her younger son went off to college, Busey returned to full-time teaching.

Busey was a supervisor for many student teachers.  One of her memories was hearing one of those student teachers tell the class there were 52 states in the U.S.  When challenged by one of the first graders, the student teacher affirmed her knowledge of the 52 states.  After class, Busey asked her to provide the names of the two extra states.

“It was gratifying for me to supervise the high school students who were interested in teaching and the student teachers,” Busey said. “I enjoyed seeing the growth and confidence they developed over time working with all the different types of students, including my special needs students who were in my classroom.”

While at ISNU, Busey said she and her twin brother, James Roberts ’62, MSE ’71, enjoyed the Big Four dances and football and basketball games.  Their two older sisters both attended ISNU, so Downs native Busey was familiar with the campus.  Busey said she returned for Homecoming each year until her sons were born and attended performances at Braden Auditorium until they moved out of the area. While Busey has not been back to campus often in the past 10 years, she keeps up with Illinois State by receiving the local paper, but knows she would “probably get lost on campus with all of the new and remodeled buildings.”

Busey and her husband, John, are both retired. Judy retired from teaching and John from 30 years in the banking profession, 19 years as a president and seven years as a stockbroker.  The Mahomet couple have a summer home in Door County, Wis., where they enjoy boating, golfing, the arts and relaxation.  The family are Green Bay Packers and St. Louis Cardinal fans.  Sons John and Jay both live in Racine, Wis., where John followed in his father’s footsteps as a stockbroker.  He currently is manager of Robert W. Baird & Co. brokerage office.  Jay works as a benefit planning consultant for Hewitt & Associates in Lincolnshire, and the Buseys have four grandchildren.

Busey said as a McLean County native and a graduate of ISNU, she had a soft spot in her heart for the two.  When she and John, who graduated from high school in LeRoy, started looking for ways to “give back,” Illinois State University, among other universities and educational institutions, was prominent in their minds.  The Busey’s established the Judith Roberts Busey Endowed Scholarship in the College of Education through a planned estate gift.

“I had a wonderful experience learning to be a teacher during my four years at ISNU,” Busey said.  “Although I taught school for less than 20 years, I can truthfully say I enjoyed every minute of my teaching time.  Each August, I would be excited to start and meet a new classroom full of six-year-olds who were eager to learn to read.  It would be my desire for others to have this same great experience.  By creating this scholarship, hopefully it will encourage others to become teachers because for me it was a most gratifying experience and profession.”