For the public – Rich Howell
Job title: Teacher, Pleasant Valley School.
What I do in my job: Plan, study, teach, listen, visit with parents, attend meetings and frequently laugh.
Why my job is important: Our culture is changing. The children I teach have grown up, in so many cases, with two parents working, getting lots of “stuff” without working for it or for the family, and having television as a focal point in the home. Teachers have to relate to these children as they are and draw them into the print and mathematical cultures, those parts of our culture which are more enduring and culture-preserving. I feel that teachers are helping preserve the culture. To do this, they’re role models, mentors, disciplinarians, leaders, visionaries, friends, and more than I can label.
The special skills I bring: A willingness to work, a passion to do my best, and an enduring desire to learn and grow with my students each year.
The best part of my job is: When students start coming in each morning. They’re warm and cheerful. They say, “Good morning, Mr. Howell,” and they mean it. What a great way to start each day. Close to that is working one-on-one with a child who’s doing her best to “get it,” and does.
The part of my job I like least: The daily stack of papers to grade.
A day of work I’ll always remember: Many years ago, a 10-year-old who had been struggling with long division came in one morning, stood at the doorway and proclaimed, “I’ve got it!” She’s probably helping her children “get it” by now.
How I got my job: I was very lucky.
How long: 17 years.
My dream job would be: Anywhere – right here would be just great – where our culture allowed teachers to work with small enough classes that they could attend to the learning needs of their students quickly and frequently. Students learn individually and uniquely, as any parent knows.
My family: I have three grown sons – Michael, John, and Chris. Chris and his wife, Jennifer, are expecting a baby girl next month. My sister and her husband moved to Nevada City recently.
Hobbies: I run 10 miles nearly every morning. I play golf, fly radio-controlled airplanes with my sons, kayak, mountain bike, ski, maintain a vegetable garden every summer, and, believe it or not, consider my job to truly be one of my hobbies.
When I was a kid: I was very fat.
If money were no object, I’d: Play all of the world’s great golf courses.
My dream vacation would be: I love being active. I can be happy in so many places.
If a movie were made of my life, I would be played by: An aging character actor.
The people who have made the biggest difference in my life: Have been my children, then my students.
My hero: I work in a world where I see heroic effort and fortitude every day.
The soundtrack of my life would include: “Desperado” by the Eagles and “Against the Wind” by Bob Seger.
I like living in Nevada County because: It has everything I love, both people and places. Close to my home, on any day, I can visit with family, ski, bike, run, or just tend to my tomatoes. I can’t imagine living anywhere else.
“For the Public” appears each Wednesday. To suggest a person to be profiled, call The Union newsroom at 273-9561.
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