If Jill Wiley had her preference, she’d be a career student.
“If I could afford it, I’d be in college 24/7. I’m a student, and I love learning.”
She has worked to instill a love of learning in her students at Moody High School, where she’s taught for the past 16 years. She currently teaches senior government and economics classes, serves as yearbook and senior class sponsor.
Occupying one of her students’ desks while the class was at lunch, Wiley explained why she enjoys teaching, why it can be a challenging profession, and why she believes hard work is important.
An observation about teaching government: “I find that our kids do not have a very strong background in current topics. They’re well-versed in history but not very familiar with contemporary issues, which is likely why the 18-24 age group is the largest demographic that doesn’t vote.”
How studying government can help: “It’s so topical that the kids can really get into the issues. You’d be surprised how passionate they become about things once they understand them. They become ripe for discussion and debate.”
The most rewarding aspect of teaching: “Preparing my students for college and helping those who don’t go to college develop a plan. They have to have an exit strategy, whether it’s college, the military, or a job, they’ve got to have a plan about what they’re going to do the day after graduation. I enjoy helping them work that out.”
The most challenging aspect of teaching: “Watching the kids face personal struggles. People often make the mistake of thinking that teenagers are mini adults. They’re not. They’re kids, and sometimes just to show up for school every day is tough for them. Our kids do a very good job of covering up what they come from and have to deal with on a personal level.”
On being married to a high school football coach: Wiley’s husband Brandon is a member of the Blue Devils’ coaching staff. “I don’t think people realize how much time high school coaches put into what they do. It’s seven days a week just about year-round. It takes up their summers; it takes up their nights. From August to November, they’re at the field house more than they’re home. But it’s rewarding. The staff and the players become a family. Coaches coach because of love for the players, and I enjoy getting to know the kids on a personal level. It makes it so much more rewarding knowing what they go through to make progress.”
The best part of being a mom: Wiley has two children and two stepchildren. “Watching my children grow up to be happy, successful adults. My greatest accomplishment will be the day they graduate from college as good people.”
Her favorite vacation destination: “I enjoy spending large amounts of time in Destin. It’s my second home during the summer.”
How she describes herself: “Energetic, passionate, and loyal.”
Jill Wiley style: “I would call it preppy conservative. My husband usually calls it 40-plus sorority girl.”
The best advice she ever received: “If you work hard, good things will happen. It applies to anything, whether it’s school, extracurricular activities or friendships. If you’re willing to work hard, you’ll reap the benefits.”
If she were stranded on a desert island with one book, one meal, and one CD: “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, my grandmother’s fried chicken with rice and gravy and green beans, and Jimmy Buffett.”
Something an acquaintance might be surprised to know about her: “That I’m a book nerd. I like to read, and I like books. I’m always doing something, so people are surprised that I can sit still and quit talking long enough to read a book.”0