SOCIAL STUDIES TEACHER, PLATTSBURGH CITY SCHOOL DISTRICT
Hometown: Falmouth, Maine
Education: BA, Middlebury College and MA, Teachers College, Columbia University Community Involvement: Co-chair of Community Action Angels of JCEO and president of Champlain Valley Business & Professional Women
When Emily Owens moved to the North Country with her husband Brenden in 2012 it was a professional risk. At the time she was teaching social studies in a school she loved in Connecticut and teaching jobs were scarce in the North Country. But Emily is not easily discouraged. While it was not what she originally planned to do professionally she went to work for a non-profit and now credits that experience for helping her get to know the community and making her a better teacher.
What are you doing to make a difference in the community?
My job makes a difference in our area. My students are members of our community and I support them in the process of becoming more informed community members. They will be the employees, neighbors and voters of our region. Outside of work, one of the groups that I am most proud to be part of is the Community Action Angels at JCEO. We focus on programs that support children and youth in the area. Our major effort is the Backpack Program that takes place in the elementary schools in the City School District. This program provides backpacks filled with nutritious food for students who come from families that are food insecure. These bags are discreetly distributed to kids on Fridays so they have access to food over the weekends. What I love about working with this group is that we have been able to address specific needs in our community and get resources quickly into the hands of young people who need support.
How do you maintain a work/life balance?
I have been more concerned with work/life balance since I became a mother. What I’ve had to do is prioritize what is most important and focus my energy there. This means I’ve had to get better at saying “No” sometimes. I also have worked to always be present in whatever I’m doing. I’ve stopped trying to multi-task so much. I have the notification sounds off on my phone and when I’m home I focus on family time. When I need to get work done, I focus on that. I’m a better teacher and mother as a result. I also ask for help. I’m lucky to have a supportive network of family and friends who help me achieve both my personal and professional goals. I wouldn’t be able to do any of it without the ongoing support of my husband.
What is something no one would guess about you?
I’ve done two Olympic-length triathlons.
Write a note to your younger self…
Speak up for yourself, for others and in support of issues that matter.