Longview School District


Longview, WA, USA
Teacher Spotlight – Mrs. Julian, Cascade Middle School

Where were you born?  I was born in Longview.

Have you lived here your whole life?  With exception of going to college and living two years in Virginia when my husband was finishing his service in the Navy.

Where did you go to school?  I went to school at Butler Acres Elementary, Coweeman Middle School and Kelso High School, class of 1983.

Did you know what you wanted to be in high school? In high school, I wanted to be a biologist. I loved biology and I loved math.

Did you enjoy high school? I loved it, I absolutely loved it! I am a very social being and got along with all students.

Were you in clubs or sports?  I was a swimmer, which was my passion. I was also in Pep Club and Spanish Club. I chose not to be a cheerleader because I was in the pool year round.

What events did you participate in for the swim team? I swam the breaststroke. I was a freestyler, but I was distance, so it was 500 meters.

Do you still swim? No, because it affects my hair. I do work out with teachers at Cascade, we do aerobics and then I lift weights with my husband twice a week.

How did you decide to attend Central Washington University? I was on bike ride with my friend since kindergarten and he was going to go to Central. It was early August and my plan was to go to LCC. We were riding out in Lexington and he said you really should think about going to Central. I think it would be a good fit for you instead of going to LCC. If you go to LCC, I think you will probably end up just staying in town.

Did his comments strike you as being odd? Yes, that struck me as odd because I was always very driven. I did really well in school and I went home and told my parents that I wanted to go to Central – they said okay.

When did you decide to pursue teaching? I was in a calculus class and I couldn’t get it. I didn’t care about the shadow of a tree. I loved writing, humanity classes, history and such. My roommate in college was my best friend since 7th grade, and she was an elementary education major.

At that point, did you want to be a teacher? I thought, oh, no way! I would never want to teach those elementary kids. I went to my advisor and she said, “You are really good with numbers, so why don’t you explore accounting or business classes.”  I did Business Administration with an Accounting emphasis.

What did you do after college? After college, Mike and I were married and moved to Virginia. Mike was in the Navy for 8 years.

What did you do after moving back to the area? I was working 6-7 days a week at Nelson Ball Paper Products (now it is called Newark). I decided to quit my job and go to school to get my master’s degree full-time to be a teacher.

After earning a Master’s degree, where did you start working? I student taught at Wallace Elementary in a 5/6 multi-age classroom because I wanted to teach at a school that was as close to inner city. I like to go down the road with speed bumps in life. I love the speed bumps because that is what gives you, in my opinion, character.

How did you end up at Cascade Middle School? I went to every elementary and middle school in Longview and Kelso and interviewed with the principals. I knew I wanted to be at Cascade Middle School, I just knew it. I was in a behavior classroom, and Bruce Holway and I walked into this room and it was kind of chaos and a boy picked up a piece of paper and threw it at me and I thought, “This is heaven!”

Do you enjoy working with different students? Yes, I believe one of my jobs as a middle school teacher is to take these “wild mustangs”, wrangle them in, but not break their spirit. I love challenges; the naughty kids are the ones that are so challenging. I love all of the kids; I love the challenge of trying to meet the needs of every single kid in the classroom.

When did you start teaching? Twenty-five years ago, in 1995.

Have you had some good mentors? Yes, I have been very fortunate that I learned from the best.  Marilyn Melville, Adele Marshall, Bruce Holway, the list goes on and on.

How long did you teach English and Math?  Bruce Holway would ask me to teach 8th grade and then 6th grade. I was very fluid. I have been a coach for 5 years, but last year I went back into the classroom.

Why did you go back to the classroom? What I found was that I grew so much last year as an educator because I added things to my box. I had also saw and observed things that I could say, “Yes, I do that!” and it really rekindled my love of instruction.

What did you teach last year?  For the first time I taught an elective; it was called Cavalier Pride. I was never allowed to teach an elective.

So how did you get the chance to teach an elective? Last year Mr. Rugg had an opening and I said, “I would really like to teach an elective” He said, “I would really like you to teach Language Arts and Social Studies because you are really good at it.” I said, “Can I have just have one?”  So, I taught two reading interventions.

What makes for a good teacher?  You have to like whatever grade level you are teaching, that is first and foremost. Secondly, even as a veteran, you need to be open and coachable. As a teacher, it is your responsibility to share your skills with experienced teachers and the newbies. My mentor teacher Dave Woods, I am the teacher I am today because of him and Marylyn Melville, Katherine Smith, Myrna Raff and all of those names.

Is there an art or science to teaching? Some say there is not an art of teaching, but a science. I think there is an art and a science and the art piece has to be present. I can deliver the best lesson all day, but it’s about the relationship and rapport with those kids, and gaining trust.

What is the best part of being a teacher?  When they come back to you and say, “Mrs. Julian, I loved having you as a teacher.” I was lucky to have all of the sixth graders and they come back and they want a hug, they tell you that they love you.

What is the worst part of being a teacher?  When the kids leave you, especially when they go to high school because you may not see much of them anymore. It is bittersweet. The other worst part is when you hear they one of them have lost their life. That just gets you.

What would you tell people who do not have kids in school what school is like today? I have been in all of the schools as a district coach and the staff, including the paras, the custodians, the bus drivers, the teachers, the principals that we really do have the student in mind, which is first and foremost. I want them to know we are giving it our all.

What would you tell a brand new teacher?  It is hard work but it is so rewarding – stick with it. It takes about four years to figure it out. Your first year you don’t know what you don’t know. Your second and third year you are starting to think you do, but by the fourth year, you will know what you don’t know. Seek out those experienced teachers.

What do you do on your own time? I love to be outdoors, whether that is hiking or camping, we just bought a trailer so that is something new. I love to listen to music, go to concerts and plays, the arts. I love to spend time with my family. I am very fortunate that I have 20-year-old twins, one is at LCC, one is at Washington State, and they are successful. Then of course, when I am at the theatre pub. I enjoy that.

Do you spend a lot of time at the theatre pub? Not like we used to. We have a nice crew of people, so we are very fortunate. It is getting less and less after 22 years.

To the people that read this what would want them to leave with? That I am a passionate hard working educator. It is all about the kids. Bottom line. When I put my head on the pillow at night, I need to know that I have given 100% and that I take my job seriously.

What haven’t I asked you that I should have? That I like to cook. I am pescotarian.

What is a pescatorian? I eat things low on the food chain. I will eat fish, eggs, and some dairy. I won’t eat chicken, beef or pork.

Is this because you are allergic to these things, or you wanted certain health benefits?  I did it then for animal reasons and then later it became more health, I don’t like the taste of meat.

What dairy do you do? I will do cottage cheese. It has to be organic; it doesn’t mean it is any better for you. I gave up milk maybe two years ago.

Do you eat eggs?  Only if they are happy eggs. If they are free range, and if I can get them from someone who raises their own chickens.

Do you eat fish? Yes, wild caught.

Do you eat many vegetables? I do eat a lot of vegetables and whole grains. I try to get protein from chickpeas and some kinds of legumes.