Local Schools

Gardendale Teacher Spotlight – Julie Austin

Our celebration of Gardendale’s teachers continues with Julie Austin. Julie is a 4th grade math teacher at Snow Rogers Elementary.

If you have followed our Teacher Spotlight Series, you may have seen a common thread at the core of all of the wonderful teachers interviewed. Each one believes they have a calling to teach and they care that every student has every opportunity to learn and grow.

Not all teachers find their way to teaching through the same path, but they have all found their path and it is the path of caring for, loving and teaching kids.

That’s why we celebrate teachers!

Treye Hanner: Tell us a little about you and how you decided to become a teacher?

Julie Austin: I am from Georgia and moved here with my husband back in 2005.  Originally, I wanted to be a nurse because I love helping people.  However, the farther I went along in my pre-nursing courses I realized nursing was not for me.

I do come from a family of educators and thought I wanted to do something different.  My grandmother, great aunt, and several cousins are all in the education system.  I just didn’t realize that teaching was my calling until one day I was helping my much younger brother-in-law with his math homework and discovered I loved helping him understand the content.

When I finished my degree from UAB back in 2012, our daughter was just an infant and soon after we had our son.  I became a stay-at-home mom for the next ten years.  I would not trade that time for anything, but now that they are older and in school, I finally have my own classroom.  I teach 4th grade math at Snow Rogers Elementary.  I could not love my job more!

Treye Hanner: What is your favorite part of being a teacher?

Julie Austin: My favorite part about being a teacher is the relationships.  The relationships with my students are everything to me.  I truly care about each and every one of them and only want them to succeed in this life.  Also, my relationships with their families and my co-workers because without them I would be lost.

I am so lucky to have such a supportive work family at Snow Rogers.

Treye Hanner: Are there special moments where you say to yourself, “this is why I teach?”

Julie Austin: All the time!  When a student finally has that “ah-ha” moment, it is the best feeling.  We pour so much into our students and knowing that it’s working feels great.  Also, when I get a sweet “good morning Mrs. Austin” or a student drawing left on my desk, I know I am right where I am meant to be.

Treye Hanner: What challenges have you experienced while having to teach through the pandemic?

Julie Austin: The biggest challenge for me is trying to keep all the students from falling behind when they are out sick or have to quarantine.  It’s a constant struggle seeing where they left off and how to get them back on track without taking away time from the on-pace instruction.  Constantly the rules and guidelines are changing and we as teachers are doing our best to navigate this new normal.

Treye Hanner: What’s the one thing you would like people to know about teachers?

Julie Austin: Please know that we are human and doing our very best every single day to inspire, love, and educate these sweet kids.  We spend so much time outside of our contract hours working, worrying, and planning how to unlock our students’ full potential.

If you know a teacher, please tell them you are praying and thinking of them.  Even a simple handwritten note means so much to show your appreciation and acknowledgement of all they do for your child.