Not all teachers are lucky. Some land the perfect job right out of college — and others work hard for the right opportunity.
Julie Hengstenberg, a Centerville native, is teaching fourth grade at Four Mile Elementary. Last year she taught second grade science and social studies.
Hengstenberg attended Graceland University where she earned an elementary education degree. She also has a middle school endorsement. She worked as a duty aid in a nursing home.
“Once I graduated, I taught in southern Iowa,” she says. “My first year, I had two non-verbal autistic kids. I didn’t know what to expect. Then I moved to a different school because of declining student enrollment.”
Hengstenberg devised a plan to solve the issue of moving around from small school to small school consolidations.
“I told my husband, Josh, that whoever got a job first, we would move there,” she says. “My husband got a job at Vermeer, and I got a job at Four Mile teaching fifth and sixth Resource Room.”
The family — which includes two boys, Teigh and Andy —moved to Mitchellville, which is right between their jobs.
“Mitchellville is a very small town and quiet,” Hengstenberg says. She has found a place for her family to grow. And that family includes her job.
“Four Mile is like a family,” she says. “I feel comfortable here; the students are loving and hard-working. What cracks me up is that kids run in to the building —not out!”
Hengstenberg grew up as the oldest child in a family with two brothers. She enjoyed her small-town upbringing in Centerville, where “you know everybody,” and she enjoys returning there.
“Not a lot of people leave (Centerville),” she says. When I go back to visit, everyone is still there.”