Terrace Elementary fifth grade teacher Laurel Quinn did not begin her career path as an educator. After three years at University of New Hampshire’s Whittemore School of Business, Quinn discovered the business path wasn’t her true calling.
“Kids were always a passion for me,” Quinn says. “I was a nanny and babysitter growing up, and always enjoyed interacting with kids.” It was that passion that led her to Arizona State University for an undergraduate degree in education, followed by her graduate degree at Northern Arizona University.
“I finally found my niche, my happy place,” she says.
Though born in Cedar Rapids, Quinn’s father had a job that required their family to move around a lot.
“We lived in Brunswick, Maine; Tampa, Fla.; Bedford, N.H.; and Arizona. His work took us on many adventures,” she says. “I’ve seen a lot of neat places and made friends all over the country.”
After teaching for six years in Phoenix, Ariz., Quinn moved back to Iowa to be closer to her family, when, after finding out they were expecting their first child, her husband, an Army Reservist, was called back to active duty in 2007. It was at that time she found her place at Terrace, where she has spent the last five years.
Integrating different teaching strategies and staying open minded in order to keep her students engaged and excited about learning, is one of Quinn’s strongest teaching qualities.
“It’s not unusual to find my students standing on their chairs reading in a Western or English accent,” she says. “Their excitement drives my excitement.”
Quinn feels that, while it’s a big responsibility, she is honored that families in Ankeny allow her to spend so much time with their children.
“I strive to not only to push them academically, but also to build the social and emotional pieces to make them confident individuals,” she explains. “We’re all different, and embracing those differences is important. They also have to understand that we have a lot in common, and we’re part of a community.”