“I get to chat with 200 kids a day. That’s way better than sitting in front of a desk.”
“Hi Toddy!” Startled, I look up see my sister waving aggressively at me. The waving nor the pet name startled me; however, the element of surprise can be frightening sometimes. Despite her position in the front of the classroom, in the middle of a lesson, she decided to scream at me from afar. Her class, now all focused on their new intruder, began to laugh, but Jenna’s smile, like always, was biggest in the room—she must of course keep up a good reputation after winning ‘best smile’ in her 2011 graduating class.
Born in Lincoln, Nebraska, Jenna—I mean Ms. Stephens—has lived most her life in Rapid. After six years at Grandview Elementary she attended South Middle School then finally graduated from Central High School. She developed a love for math which made for an easy decision in picking a major. She earned a bachelor’s degree in math while competing in indoor and outdoor track and field at SDSU. After placing second at her conference meet in triple jump her graduating year, she decided to pursue teaching. Despite her admiration for math she claimed it was the idea of coaching which attracted her to teaching. Though this is only her second-year teaching, Ms. Stephens is already coaching three sports, including her head coach position of the competitive dance team and Coeds. She enjoys coaching and plans to make a career of it—possibly opening a “cute dance studio in Rapid somewhere.” Largely because it’s cheaper, she chose to comeback and live in Rapid and even acquired a teaching job at her old high school. Most everything remained unchanged though she noticed the school’s spirit doesn’t compare to her first time around later admitting that might be because “there were a couple really good Central teams when I went here.” She still enjoys the everlasting traditions that remain such as camo at football games and our thots and thugs theme paired with Stevens’s prep theme at rivalry basketball game.
“I definitely thought [teaching with my old teachers] would be weirder because they might still see me as a kid, because I am still one, but it’s actually not weird at all.”
The second journey through Central came with new involvements and understandings. She discovered a lot of students deal with great adversity she never experienced while attending. “It’s amazing how many kids have to work or help raise their siblings.” She gained a new respect for students outside of the campus and grew more lenient on assignments. Coming back after only 6 years many of her high school teachers remained. Now working alongside them, Jenna wasn’t sure how working with them would work out. “I definitely thought it would be weirder because they might still see me as a kid, because I am still one, but it’s actually not weird at all.” Knowing so many teachers previously actually made her ease into teaching easy.
Teaching wasn’t Jenna’s initial career choice but she thinks it taught her patience and believes she’ll be a better parent because of it. She is very pleased to have summers and holidays off and enjoys her winter and spring break as much as possible. Mostly she is glad she doesn’t “sit in front of a desk all day.” Additionally, she is thankful she can “make a difference” in student’s lives with her work.
Photo: Vicki Stephens