Making the Grade
December 7, 2005
For Jodi Owens, the best part of teaching is what she calls “those happy ‘Aha!’ moments.”And according to the bright and bubbly fourth grade teacher at Frisco Elementary, her day is full of them. “As a teacher, I do try to help create a sense of fun with my students,” Owens said. “We take the time to stop and laugh with each other. Those simple moments of laughing and appreciating each other are the best.” Now in her second year of teaching, the 24-year-old Blue River resident spent her first year at Frisco Elementary as a kindergarten teacher, but made a switch to the fourth grade class this past year. Owens said that, while going from teaching kindergarten to fourth grade was a jump, it was absolutely the right move for her.
“I really enjoyed teaching kindergarten, but I feel that fourth grade is the stop for me,” she said. “Kindergarten was about teaching basic skills, while fourth-graders get more deeply into their own knowledge. The level of conversation is more developed, and there’s a higher level of thinking. It’s a really neat age.”Originally from southern California, Owens spent her summers in the mountains of North California, cultivating a love of mountain life, which prompted her to make the move to Colorado. The call to teaching was an early one.”A great teacher puts their heart into everything they do,” she said. “I had several wonderful teachers growing up and wanted to be one of those amazing teachers.”I’m still striving to be like them,” she added.Owens said that what sets a great teacher apart from the others is what she calls “being true to your students.” For her, a big part of that is building up a foundation of trust between teacher and student.
“I take the time to relate to their thoughts and feelings, and encourage them to feel comfortable talking to me,” she said. “It’s important to me that they know how much I care about them and how great and capable I think each one of them is.”I believe in teaching them self-confidence, in telling them, ‘Believe in yourself, and reach for the stars,'” she added.One way that Owens boosts the self-confidence of her 13 fourth-graders is by conducting a unique classroom program in which the students reward one another. When one of her students notices another one excelling in character traits such as empathy or cooperation, that student rewards them with a brick with their name on it, which is placed in a wall. “Character education is one of my favorite subjects,” Owens said. “While academics are important, it’s also important to teach students to treat each other rightly and fairly.”Owens plans to marry her fiancé, Brian Hennek, in July. But after her honeymoon and summer break, she’ll be back in the classroom for the upcoming year. “I love, love, love, love teaching,” she said. “It’s a dream come true for me.
“When I’m driving home at night it’s comforting to know that what I did today was really important,” she added. “It’s a good feeling.” Challenges: I feel I’m constantly trying to create the ultimate team of parents, students and faculty.Gratifications: Seeing the growth of my students, both academically and socially. And one major gratification is that for me it’s an honor to be a teacher in Summit County – I’m so proud to be teaching here.Goals: To continue to provide my students with skills and instill confidence in them.What is something that your colleagues and students would be surprised to know about you? I love fishing, I can speak German and I can hold my own in Texas Hold’em.