Becker back in FD as teacher at Butler

Meant to be

-Messenger photo by Chad Thompson Jenn Becker, a first grade teacher at Butler Elementary School, reads to her students at the school recently.

Jenn Becker believes she’s right where she’s meant to be, and in some ways that’s kind of scary.

Becker, a 2011 St. Edmond High School graduate, is a first-grade teacher at Butler Elementary School.

She and her husband Luke Becker, also a Fort Dodge native, recently became homeowners at a historic house in Fort Dodge.

The 120-year-old house is located in the Oak Hill Historical District, she said.

“It’s pretty unique,” she said. “I just love old houses and the character of them.”

-Messenger photo by Chad Thompson Jenn Becker, a first grade teacher at Butler Elementary School, reads a book to her students before their recess at the school recently.

Recently the couple began some home improvement projects, one of which was replacing old wallpaper.

“There’s a lot of wallpaper and we are in the process of removing that,” she said.

Rather than doing it all at once, Luke Becker has been removing the wallpaper in sections, Jenn Becker said.

On Feb. 26, Luke Becker peeled back a section of wallpaper in the master bedroom and made an eerie discovery.

The date Feb. 26, 1993, was written in pencil on the wall.

Whether fate, coincidence, or some other phenomenon, Jenn Becker admits it was strange.

“It was just crazy,” Jenn Becker said. “We did this wall and that wall, and he just happened to do that wall on the same day.”

“It was kind of spooky,” she added. “It was like meant to be that we were here 24 years later tearing down the wallpaper.”

Becker is in her second year of teaching.

After considering Storm Lake as an area to begin their lives together, Jenn Becker and Luke Becker decided to settle in Fort Dodge.

“I knew I wanted to be in this area or close to it,” she said. “We both decided Fort Dodge was where we wanted to be so we moved back two summers ago.”

Jenn Becker graduated from Iowa State University in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education.

She was hired at Butler in January 2016.

The transition from college to teaching wasn’t easy at first.

When she began her duties, she felt isolated at times, she said.

But with time, the experience improved.

“Last year we didn’t have as much support for teachers,” she said. “I felt like I was alone with behaviors in my classroom.”

Jenn Becker has 24 students in her classroom.

The addition of Stephanie Anderson as principal, helped, she said.

Anderson was hired as principal in March 2016.

“She’s been phenomenal in getting stuff done,” Jenn Becker said. “She set up support for us. This year there is just so much more support.”

Jenn Becker also began working with Tabitha Johnson, an instructional coach in the Fort Dodge Community School District.

Working with Johnson has been beneficial, Jenn Becker said.

“It has been huge for me,” she said. “Last year it was hard because I couldn’t reach out for help. I was just trying to stay afloat. It’s almost like there was so much I needed help with, I didn’t know where to start. This year we have focused on a lot more. She (Johnson) has come in and co-taught with me, which has helped.”

The challenges Jenn Becker faces is worth it when she sees improvement in her students.

“It’s amazing to see the growth in every area,” she said. “Seeing them use math strategies or inventing their own thinking.”

“The coolest thing is the behavioral growth,” Jenn Becker said. “Those kids who are struggling, struggling, but then they have a really good day. Or that kid who doesn’t really open up and won’t talk to you and then one day they talk to you. We try every single day working on these things, so to see it finally happen is really cool and so worth it.”

She said students respond when they see that their teacher cares.

“When you take the time to show that you care, those challenging students, they need someone to care,” she said. “They test you and they want to know you are on their side and not just somebody who teaches them, but somebody who wants them to succeed.”

In terms of being recognized, the same also holds true for teachers.

As a first-year teacher, Jenn Becker appreciated being recognized by administrators in the FDCSD.

She said administrators would send her notes and cards letting her know that she is doing a good job.

“It was huge,” she said. “It was like ‘oh my gosh, they know I exist,'” Jenn Becker said. “We have such great administrators. I feel like we should be doing those same things for our students, so they know that we care.”

Outside of the classroom, Jenn Becker is part of the Fort Dodge Study Club. The Fort Dodge Study Club is a women’s organization with a mission of promoting philanthropic service, charitable giving and community spirit.

Jenn Becker said she enjoys being involved in the community.

“I don’t know what to do with myself when I’m not busy,” she said.

Jenn Becker sees herself as part of a trend of younger people moving back to the area and getting involved.

“There is a lot of people our age back in town,” she said. “So it’s fun to get together and volunteer or have a good time, too. I see more and more young people coming back, and I think it’s only going to get better.”