Elaine (Manning) Kuhn of Springfield received a $1,000 Fr. Yunker Scholarship in 1974. It helped fund her associate’s degree at Springfield College in Illinois. Elaine went on to earn a B.A. in Spanish with a minor in English, as well as a secondary education certificate at Illinois College in Jacksonville.
The mother of three adult sons (James, Michael and Jonathan) and a grandmother of four, Elaine has been a Spanish teacher at Springfield High School for almost 20 years. Earlier in her career, she taught at Whitehall’s North Greene High School and at Williamsville High School. Along the way, she has been a world traveler, visiting 14 foreign countries, mainly in Europe and Central America. Another of Elaine’s special achievements was earning her master’s degree in Reading and Literacy from Benedictine University in 2007.
Years before Elaine ever heard Fr. Yunker’s name, her family had a tragic connection to the long-time pastor of St. Vincent de Paul Lithuanian Catholic Church. In the 1930s, her great-grandmother, Anna Sleveski Mazika, was killed by a hit-and-run driver on Ninth Street as she was walking home from confession with Fr. Yunker. The priest was one of the first to come to her aid.
Elaine says she became a Spanish teacher because of the mysterious appeal of listening to her mother, Pearl Bernice (Kavirt) Manning, and aunt, Lillian (Kavirt) Trello, speak to their mother in Lithuanian. “Sometimes it was only words and phrases, and although I couldn’t understand a word they were saying, I always thought, ‘that’s really cool; they’re having such a good time.’ I think that’s why I had a special interest in foreign languages and travel abroad – why learning and teaching another language always appealed to me.” A Springfield native, Elaine attended St. Joseph Grade School and Ursuline Academy.