Shawna Jacobsen says the most satisfying part of her job is that she can’t go anywhere in Centerville without someone saying, “Hi, Mrs. J!”
Jacobsen recently received further confirmation of her lasting impact on students when she won the Jackson Masonic Lodge No. 42 Outstanding Teacher of the Year award, which is given at an all-district-wide staffing meeting each August.
She says she had no idea she was the winner when the award presentation started. The Masonic representative started naming the characteristics of the winning teacher. At first they were characteristics of any good teacher, she says, but then he mentioned the recipient started her career in Beatrice, Neb. That’s when she knew.
“It was a really, really cool experience,” Jacobsen says. “I was completely shocked. It’s very humbling to have your peers nominate you.”
Jacobsen teaches seventh grade life sciences and social studies, and she also co-advises the junior high student council and co-directs the junior high drama club.
She started teaching in 1994 and has been teaching in Centerville since 1999 when her husband, Tyler, took a job with Rathbun Regional Water Association. They have twin 9-year-old daughters, Brenna and Sidney.
“I’ve always thought it was an excellent career, especially for someone with a family, because I never have to worry about if I have to work on Christmas,” she says. “It’s really nice to be able to spend my summers with them and have the same holidays and breaks. I think it’s a real benefit.”
Inspired by her favorite aunt who was a teacher, Jacobsen says she originally went to college to pursue a teaching career with hopes of teaching elementary students. She was advised that adding an endorsement to teach middle schoolers would make her more employable. That turned out to be good advice, and she has never taught below the middle level.
“I love junior high kids,” she says. “I love their sense of humor. I love that they still love their teachers.”
She says teaching junior high takes extreme patience and creativity, but it is worth it.
“There’s never a dull moment,” she says. “I love that they are trying so hard to be adults, but in the next breath they need a hug.”