Helena Magazine

Get to know Helena Elementary teacher Jennifer Sellers

Published 1:55 pm Tuesday, February 7, 2023

How long have you been teaching, and when did you begin teaching at HES?

I have been teaching at Helena Elementary for 22 years. I began my career right here at HES in 1996 as a student teacher and was fortunate enough to be offered a first-grade position.  I  taught for 11 years before taking some time off when I had my own two children. After five years at home, I was blessed again to have the opportunity to come back home to Helena Elementary.

What inspired you to become a teacher?

I am a descendant of a long line of educators. My most favorite being my mother. She taught first grade for 28 years. I vividly remember mimicking her and “playing school” as a child. My stuffed animals and dolls were the smartest around! In my first year of college I declared pharmacy as my major, but soon felt like I was being led toward something else. My father said to me, “Jenn, you know what you were born to do… go do it!” That prompt was all I needed to change my major to elementary education!

What is your teaching style or philosophy?

My biggest priority as a teacher is building relationships with my students and their families. A classroom that feels safe and secure, where all are loved and seen is so important for students at this age. Once that class family has been established you can watch your students take off! The growth and progress at the age I teach is pretty incredible to witness! I also feel that demonstrating enthusiasm for what I teach, whether it is a new reading skill, math strategy, or science concept is very important. If I am excited about learning, usually my students follow right along!

Although you teach others, what do you learn from teaching children?

Wow, I learn a lot from my students! Usually in the form of life lessons like such as living in the moment, laugh anytime you can (especially at yourself) and open your heart to all kinds of people and possibilities. When you watch a first grader reach out and include a child who may seem alone or speak authentically kind words to a friend that needs encouragement, you remember that the most important things in life come from the heart!

What accomplishment fills you with pride from your time teaching?

The accomplishments that mean the most are really those of other people ~  My husband Chris, my kids Anna Kate and Todd, and all of my Helena students! My own people give me so much to be proud of!  When a current or former student invites me to a baptism,  graduation, or wedding I feel so thankful that I had a little part of their life that impacted them enough to remember me. When I sit in the high school stadium for a game and have students come to find me to give me a hug and sometimes even tell me something they remember from their time with me, it really fills my heart! When I watch the seniors walk the halls at our annual senior walk in May, it shreds me to tears every year but also fills me with so much joy that I got to play a part in their success story!