It was a natural transition from home to the classroom for Liz Weil.
Weil was a stay-at-home mom for seven years before becoming a substitute elementary school teacher. She substituted for two years, trying different grade levels, before teaching full time.
“I just loved kids,” says the second-grade teacher at Woodland Hills Elementary in West Des Moines. “So it was a very natural thing for me to want to teach my kids and very young kids.”
Weil’s mom, who taught art, also had a role in her decision to go into teaching.
“She just loved it and kind of made me think it would be a good job for me,” says Weil, who recalls listening to her mom tell stories from school.
Weil attended the University of Iowa and received a degree in elementary education. It’s an age group that she’s always wanted to work with.
“I kind of wanted to get them when they were carefree, innocent and kind, and loving to one another,” she says. “They still like to have fun and goof around.”
They brighten Weil’s day, from their smiles first thing in the morning to their high-fives in the afternoon. For her, it’s the best part of the job.
Weil’s favorite subject to teach is reading because of the many ways it impacts students. Reading offers them the opportunity to explore and discover, she says, exposing them to different cultures and experiences. They also learn how books relate to their own lives and can offer valuable life lessons.
This is Weil’s second year as a full-time teacher. Last year, she was at Brookview Elementary in West Des Moines. Woodland Hills just opened in fall 2013, so it’s been an adjustment for herself and her students, she says.
It’s been cool helping the kids establish this as their new school and make new friends, as well as getting to know her colleagues.
“It’s been kind of fun to start a school and establish a school,” Weil says.
If there’s one thing that students take away from her classroom, she’d like it to be “that everyone is different and that it’s OK to be different, and just to love who you are,” she says.