Woman comes from Australia to work at the elementary school she attended in Glenwood Springs | PostIndependent.com

Woman comes from Australia to work at the elementary school she attended in Glenwood Springs

John GardnerGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Chad Spangler/Post Independent Glenwood Springs native Bethany Owen, left, shares a smile with a student while teaching first grade at Glenwood Springs Elementary School on Friday morning.

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – Bethany Owen is more comfortable at Glenwood Springs Elementary School than she appeared, seated in a tiny chair tailored to the height of a first-grader.”I went to school in this building,” she said.The chairs and tables are smaller than the one-time student remembered, and the hallways are not as grand as they seemed to be nearly 24 years ago. But her school pride remains intact.”My first-grade teacher was Connie Casey,” Owen recalled. “She was Connie Curtis back then. She teaches over at Sopris Elementary School now.”Owen returned to her elementary school and is now student teaching for Jeanine King’s first-grade class located in the Bolitho Building at GSES.

“This is the school I wanted to come to because this was my school,” Owen said. And even though both the building and Owen have changed over the years, it still reminds her of growing up.”It was good growing up in Glenwood,” she said. “I miss it. I miss the small town environment.”Returning to the classroom has been more than the learning experience she expected, it’s been a nostalgic trip down memory lane.”It’s interesting to come back. I used to coach gymnastics in Glenwood, too. And to see people that were little and are now almost grown up, that is bizarre,” Owen said.Owen is in the process of receiving her master’s degree in education from the Australian National University, in Sydney, Australia. Owen has lived down under for nearly a decade now, and when she discovered that she could complete her student teaching abroad, she jumped at the opportunity to return to the place where it all began. During Christmas 2007, Owen was in town for the holidays and simply called GSES Assistant Principal Ted Donahue and spoke to him about the program.”It’s great that GSES made this happen, and I appreciate that,” Owen said. “It’s a pretty big thing to ask with me living there and wanting to teach here, it’s a pretty big gamble for them because they don’t know any of the programs over there.”

As the dawn of her career crests the horizon of life, finding herself back at home in the Roaring Fork Valley comforts her. In her view, she has lived the best of two worlds being that Owen has lived a life filled as much with education as it has been with adventure.”I’ve been back for three- of four-week visits every year or two,” Owen confessed. “But this is the first time I’ve come back for longer than that and returned to do something other than snowboarding or just playing.”Living and learning abroad has obviously been a thrilling adventure for a girl who grew up in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado and could count on one hand the times she had even set foot in an ocean.”I left a couple of months after turning 21,” she said. “I was the one growing up who would say, ‘I’m never leaving. And if I did leave, I’m coming right back.’ I don’t know what happened.”Owen will return to her home in Australia the end of October, and she will finish up her degree later in the spring. She and her fiancé, Andrew, have planned a spring wedding, and Owen is looking forward to beginning her career as a teacher. But her time here has reminded her of where she began the journey to become the person she is today.”I’ve appreciated the adventure,” she said. “I like meeting new people, I’ve loved living in a new place, and I really value the fact that this is a great place to grow up, but I don’t think you know how good it is until you leave. Then you appreciate it more.”Contact John Gardner: 384-9114jgardner@postindependent.com

Post Independent, Glenwood Springs, Colorado CO

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