Profile In Dedication – Jan Enia
Jan Enia has taught at St. Gertrude School for over 20 years, having started in 1989. She has educated over 600 students and has seen countless changes in that time. Jan has decided to retire this summer, so we visited with her to hear her thoughts from her time in our school community.
When did you know you wanted to be a teacher?
In the 3rd grade. I had a great teacher and decided I wanted to be just like her. I even kept a notebook on things I liked doing in different grades so I could use the ideas when I began teaching.
What brought you to St. Gertrude School?
I had taken 12 years off to raise my boys and knew Catholic high school expenses were just around the corner. So, I took a maternity sub job in the spring and was offered the 1st grade for the fall.
As an educator in the primary grades, what is your greatest joy and biggest challenge?
My greatest joy has always been teaching kids how to read and really enjoy it. It‘s such a great feeling when a child looks at you with wonder after reading a sentence all on their own. I also get that feeling when the kids tell me about a good book they are reading. The biggest challenge has been helping children realize
that they are not perfect; that God made each unique. Keeping up with technology has also been a big challenge for me – one that I haven‘t succeeded at either!
What are some of the biggest changes you have seen in Catholic education through the years?
By far, the biggest change has been in technology. Not having been raised with computers, it has been a BIG challenge for me to TRY to change my ways of teaching.
Name three of the most influential people you have known in your 20+ years at St. Gertrude. Why?
Father Wiseman made a great effort to get to know each child. He would get the 1st and 2nd graders every Monday for 20 minutes and told the teachers to get a cup of coffee while he told the kids Bible stories.
I grouped these three together: Judy Bayer, who is the glue that holds the school together; Nancy Cowan, who is the stability, and Shari Siebert, who is the joy.
Finally, I have always been influenced by the children who struggled (either academically or socially) the most in school. Most have gone on to be some of the most caring adults I know.
What is in store for Jan Enia as you transition?
Spending more time with my grandkids and traveling in months other than summer! I may look for a part-time job (involving kids, hopefully) in the fall. I‘d also like to volunteer to teach adults to read.
What advice would you have for a young undergraduate student considering becoming a teacher?
The first thing that I would tell them is to make sure your heart is in it and you really like working with kids. It will entail many, many long hours (sometimes up to 60 each week) and you‘ll never get rich doing it.