More than just a job

Jim Howell

Photo By Tom Angel

Jim Howell has been teaching for 27 years, the last seven at Sierra View Elementary. What sets Howell apart from most teachers is that his students are severely handicapped and/or emotionally disturbed. The idea of teaching children with such challenges may seem daunting for some, but not Howell. He recognizes his students may not have the same physical abilities others have when it comes to certain activities we all take for granted, but his patience, love of his job and his seemingly innate understanding of his students make his task look easy.

Where does your passion for teaching come from?

It really is just a lot of fun. I get to know these kids and their families, and there may be times when it is tough to stay optimistic, but it is the most fulfilling work that I could imagine doing. It really is a win-win situation for me.

So you’ve never had an urge for any other occupation than teaching?

Well I did always want to be a DJ. I like to bring the drums to class to bang on, and the kids do it too, whether they want to or not.

I understand you integrate the CN&R in class. How so?

I use the paper as a way for the kids to get a feel for the local community. We look at ads, and pictures. For many of the kids it is just about being familiar with it. For example, they are able to look in the paper and find the movie times for [the new movie] Robots.

What is the most rewarding part of your occupation?

There is a sense of community, safety that you get between teachers and kids. I have never worked anywhere but at a school. It is the ideal place to work. It’s also nice that my wife, Vicky, who is the hardest-working teacher in the world, teaches first and second grade here, and my son is a student here as well.