By Kathy Henderson
When English teacher Jill Elliott retired after 26 years at Murray Middle School, she expected that she’d get her home more organized, read more novels and spend more time with family and friends.
What Elliott didn’t expect was that she’d be back working in education just within months of retiring at the end of October.
This time, Elliott isn’t part of St. Paul Public Schools, where she started teaching in 1989. Instead, she’s begun the new year supervising three Metropolitan State University student teachers.
After starting out in education coaching gymnastics, Elliott is coming full circle, only now as coach to the aspiring middle and high school teachers. Along with mentoring her college students, Elliott’s duties will include observing, assessing and evaluating her mentees.
Being a retiree gives Elliott the flexibility to meet with her students at times convenient to their schedules.
And Elliott said she’ll be giving them the same advice that her father gave her when she started her teaching career: Get to know your students really well in the first few weeks and build a relationship with them through what they read and are interested in.
That philosophy was evident in Elliott’s teaching career at Murray, where her online profile read: “What I enjoy most about teaching English is when I can get kids reading and connecting their personal lives to the literature.”
Elliott credits her father—a teacher, coach and horseman— with being her biggest inspiration, to become a teacher, a calling she knew she had as early as a second grader.
Meanwhile, Elliott credits the “amazing staff” and especially her English team at Murray for keeping her teaching there for over two decades.
“Despite all they have to do each day, they are like a family in the way they would come together to help the students,” she said.
In her new job, Elliott hopes to inspire her student teachers to follow her father’s wisdom and the ideals of her Murray colleagues.
Kathy Henderson is a freelance writer who lives in St. Paul.