New teacher passionately embraces her roles as a rural educator and podcast host
As a little girl, Jillian Seid wanted to be a teacher. The WGU Washington alum and Tri Cities native remembers naively looking at teaching as simply giving some tests and stamping “good work” on top of the papers. In her second year as a math and science teacher at Mabton Junior Senior High in the Yakima Valley, she now passionately believes that being a true educator is about putting your heart and soul into your lessons. And for Seid, that means consistently showing up for the kids who need it the most, especially those in rural communities.
“It wasn’t until I started teaching in the public education system that I found my true passion, which is serving underserved kids who need someone to show up for them and to stay consistent in their lives,” she says.
Seid’s fervor to teach was delayed following her graduation in 2020 because schools had already started. She couldn’t find a full-time position, so she ended up being a long-term substitute teacher and then subbed around for the remainder of the school year at a middle school. At first, she felt discouraged that she didn’t get to teach in her own classroom. She dragged her feet to work every day. Now, she views the sub experience as a blessing in disguise.
Although Seid got her degree in elementary education, she realized her true love was teaching middle school – and teaching in a rural community. Her story was taking a new turn.
“Teaching middle school was not what I originally wanted to do. But I am so grateful for the experience. For me, working in a rural town is so important because often these kids are overlooked, and schools are short-handed. They deserve passionate teachers who strive to make learning engaging and interesting like any other student.”
Rural schools often serve as the center of social, recreational, and cultural life in their communities. In addition, they provide essential access to education and jobs, which is something that deeply resonates with Seid. She realized teaching in a rural community was instrumental to her teaching dream. She credits WGU with providing her with the flexible, affordable program she needed to complete her degree. And she credits her WGU mentor with pushing her to succeed far sooner than she expected.
“My mentor pushed and encouraged me to reach my goals—the goals I set for myself. They were ambitious, but I was determined. She never gave up on me or told me that I was in over my head. She told me that I could do anything I set my mind to. So, I did exactly that.”
Her passion for education continues to spark more dreams. She’s embraced a new platform to help amplify her teaching lessons: a podcast with her best friend and long-time mentor, Angela Gonzalez, who happens to be an elementary school principal at another school. This time, her audience is her fellow teachers.
The tagline for the podcast reads: A middle school teacher and an elementary school principal turned best friends? Yeah, that's us. Not only is our friendship atypical but so is the way we deliver education in our buildings. Hang out with us and hear the full spectrum of perspectives as we discuss different topics in education!”
The idea for the "Your School Scoop" podcast took flight as the two friends were having one of their regular chats.
“Angela is someone who I regularly call about issues or just to vent about what is happening at school or in my classroom. One day we were talking, and our conversation was so good that I said, ‘I wish we could hit record and let others listen to this conversation.’ And the rest is history,” Seid says. “Our goal is to make relatable content for all educators. Not giving the listeners just one perspective but the whole spectrum.”
The future looks bright for this young and very determined teacher, whose passion for education doesn’t appear to be taking a recess anytime soon. Just as she believes a true educator should put their heart and soul into their lessons, Seid wants her students to do the same in their lives.
“The lesson I want to leave my students with is to set your goals so high and don’t settle until you reach them. You are capable of whatever you set your mind to. If you have no goals, then you have no drive, and your life will become stagnant. Always strive for more.”
By Courtney Dunham, Communications Manager for WGU Northwest Region. For media or other inquiries, contact Courtney at 206.388.8926 or Courtney.firstname.lastname@example.org