Teacher Feature: Jill Owen


Jill Owen teaches Second and Third Grade at Hamer Elementary. Owen has been teaching at a public school for seven years, but also spent 20 years homeschooling her eight children.

What made you decide to be a teacher? I struggled all the way through elementary school and I had a very mean teacher. I decided that there needed to be more nice teachers. Teaches that were patient with students who struggled. I loved teaching my own children, who have become college graduates and my daughter at barely 17( at least a year younger than all her classmates) who earned the presidential Scholarship, which is full tuition for four years. I wanted to help and teach students, not only my own children. My children’s and my students’ successes are my own. I am proud of the big and little victories. I love my students!

What do you enjoy about being a teacher? Everything! My students are amazing, their insights and the conversations we have. I love when they struggle and they know I am not going to become impatient and they don’t give up, then they finally understand, that is what makes it all worth it!

What are some challenges? Since I teach two grades. I have to prepare for two of every subject, this is very time consuming. I do not have any prep time during the day because when my students are at PE, I have another class I am with, same with music and library. Thankfully I have an amazing paraprofessional Dana Anderson who volunteered to do PE for both my classes, she takes one class while I teach the other, then she trades off and takes my other class to PE. Otherwise I would have to do PE myself. I have to do a lot of preparation at home. However, it is all worth it!

What has been your favorite professional development class or college class have you taken? I learned so much from the Mathematical Teaching for Instruction (MTI) classes that teachers were required to take. It started me on a path to improve my math teaching and led me to author and professor Jo Boaler, who is one of my greatest inspirations on how best to teach math. I also took a class with the Idaho State Department of Education through Boise State earning nine credits towards my masters. It was the Idaho coaching network, teaching English Language Arts. I learned a great amount on how to write a unit and many other things too numerous to mention.

What has been the most rewarding experience you have had teaching? My students! One particular experience was my first year teaching. I did not know what I was doing, I just graduated after doing my student teaching with Teri Smith and Karen Johnson at Hamer elementary and was hired to teach in the morning 2nd grade at Hamer, then drive during lunch to Terreton to teach remedial kindergarten, all Hispanic students. I had only one student who could speak English and I knew very little Spanish. I also had a girl with Down’s Syndrome, she liked to run out of the classroom and I did not have any aid or paraprofessional (after many months I did get someone else in the class to help me). It was challenging, to say the least! This was in 2009, so they still did IRI testing. All my students in kindergarten and many in 2nd grade scored a 1 which is below grade level. At the end of the school year almost all of my students in 2nd and kindergarten scored a 3, except for my kindergarten student with Down’s Syndrome, scored 1 and one other student in 2nd grade had a score of 2. I was very proud of my students, all the hard work paid off, I was ecstatic! We started at the lowest level and made it to the top! Often the most challenging experiences turn into the most rewarding!

What are some things that are different in the education system now compared to when you first started teaching/when you were a student? When I was a student we had a teacher test us in person, now all the testing is on a computer and I don’t like that at all. Also the ISIP(this replaced the IRI) is timed and I believe that is detrimental to students.

What is something interesting about you most of your students don’t know? I have traveled to almost all fifty states in the USA and to several countries. I traveled with my daughter to Europe with several of the high school teachers at West Jefferson high school and many of the high school students along with some of their parents.

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