By Barb Arland-Fye
The Catholic Messenger
WASHINGTON — Julie Timmins, a longtime public school teacher who left retirement to teach at St. James Elementary, was shocked when a TV crew announced during an Oct. 6 school assembly that she was A+ for Education Teacher of the Month.
The two-man crew from KCRG-TV9 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, recorded a commercial featuring Timmins, St. James students, and Bishop Thomas Zinkula. He and Diocesan Superintendent of Schools Lynne Devaney were in Washington to visit the school.
St. James needed a long-term substitute teacher two years ago and Timmins accepted the opportunity to teach again, part-time, after retiring from full-time teaching in 2016. More recently, “she has joined our family as the English Language and Title I teacher,” St. James Elementary Principal Rebecca Clarahan said. Title I is a program to assist students at risk of not meeting challenging academic standards. Timmins returned to school herself to earn an English as a Second Language Endorsement.
In nominating Timmins for the award, Clarahan said, “Mrs. Timmins really stands out and shines! She is currently our kindergarten teacher for the first semester. She willingly stepped up to help our students, families and school …. She has learned so incredibly much in the world of technology and curriculum. During her prep times, she is still serving ELL and Title I students. Mrs. Timmins is always positive, upbeat, and willing to try something new or take on a challenge. She is kind and patient with the kindergartners and she has found ways to connect with the diverse learners in her class.”
For example, Timmins uses Spanish to connect with students who have limited English and visuals to help a student who has difficulty in sharing space. She collaborates with associates and special education teachers from the public school. “She is managing a lot this semester and she is doing it with grace, a smile, and lots of success,” Clarahan said.
Timmins said she enjoys teaching at St. James. Her husband noticed that she is happy when she comes home from school and the couple agreed that her decision to end retirement to teach at St. James is a good one.
“I’ve taught reading and science most of my life,” she said, so kindergarten is a new experience. “The kids are well-behaved, the staff is supportive and it’s just a good place to be.” Her goal is to ensure that kindergarteners have a positive experience to prepare them for the following years in school. “I want them to have fun and still learn.”