Julia Giger began her educational career in the Emporia School District, by working as a teacher’s aide at William Allen White Elementary School. She then began teaching at William Allen White, in 1980. After taking a few years off to raise her boys when they were young, she returned to teaching, this time at Logan Avenue Elementary School.
Julia has taught for 31 years, all in the Emporia School District. She taught in a variety of areas, including third grade, fourth grade, and as a reading and math strategist.
Julia did more than teach the curriculum, she taught students; or more specifically, individual children! If a child didn’t know how to whistle, she taught them how to whistle. If they didn’t know how to tie their shoes, she taught them how to tie their shoes. She took the time, to get to know each individual child in her class, and created a special, sincere relationship with each one. In fact, some of her former students still keep in contact with her!
While some teachers would shy away from some of the students who would cause the most problems in class, it seemed Julia was drawn to those children. She took the time, sometimes time outside of the school day, to get to know those children. She found their talents and special skills, and gave them hope and encouragement. Those were the kids who needed attention the most, and Julia knew it, and gave it to them. She took the time, where some other people may not have. I’m sure it meant a lot and made a difference in those children’s lives!
When Julia was teaching, if a question or inquiry came up during a lesson that sparked the students’ interest, she would take the time to teach them about that specific topic. If a student brought in a spider, rock, flower, or any other type of little curiosity, Julia would take the time to help the child and/or class find out more about it! She let the children’s interests guide her teaching, which is what good teachers do!
Julia also went to every single school event that there was! She showed up to every music program, every parent involvement night, every skate night (although she didn’t skate), every staff recognition, all of it. She was the quiet one, who was always there to lend a hand, to show support, or to pitch in however she was needed. Whether it was her committee or not, or whether is was her students or not, you could always count on Julia to be there to support her school, her coworkers, and the students.
Julia loves seeing past students out and about in the community, and likes to keep tabs on what they are doing with their life. She said that it is rewarding, seeing them grow up, and make something of their lives!
Julia is retiring in May 2017. As I write this, it is only a couple of weeks away. I fight back the tears, as I remember what an inspiration she has been, not only to her students, but also to me and other staff members! I also notice, as I look back and reread what I wrote, that the words “took the time” are in here a lot. I guess that describes Julia’s teaching career the best. She took the time, sometimes her own time, to change children’s lives! She took the time, to make a difference!
USD 253 is losing a wonderful teacher, educator, colleague, and friend, when May 25 rolls around this year. I know I will miss seeing Julia in our school tremendously! There are going to be many children who will miss out on her encouragement and knowledge. However, there are also many who have been blessed to have been taught by, or with, Julia as well!
Enjoy your retirement, Julia! You have earned it! I am sure, you will never stop teaching!