A new yet familiar face will be in the halls and classroom this year at Hillsboro Elementary School. Hillsboro native Tena Loewen begins a new journey as a 2nd grade teacher.
There are many places that people know Tena from when it comes to Hillsboro. She grew up in the USD 410 district for most of her school years except for some of her elementary ones. At that time, she attended Elyria Christian School where her dad worked.
“I only went to kindergarten and fifth grade here. So I was joking with Mr. Yoder (school principal) that I just skipped over all the other grades,” said Loewen.
Many teachers have changed since her time there, but there are some constants that remain. In addition to Evan Yoder serving as principal then and now, several teachers are still there.
“I had Mrs. Boldt in kindergarten although her last name was different then. In fifth grade, I had Mr. Dick. I also had Mrs. Wiebe and Mr. Jilka, and Mr. Jilka was my middle school basketball coach,” said Loewen. “And then I have played (sports) with or been friends with other teachers’ kids. I forget that I can call them by their first names until I hear other teachers using them.”
Loewen played sports at Hillsboro High School and at Tabor College. She excelled in volleyball and basketball at both schools winning numerous awards and titles. She was named All-American in volleyball and basketball while at Tabor.
At Tabor, Tena studied Education which, for her, is the family business. Dad, David Loewen, recently retired from teaching in the education department at Tabor and mom, Joanne Loewen, continues to teach there. Initially, Tena wanted to go in a different direction, but things changed for her.
“I had said that I would never stay in Hillsboro, and I would never be a teacher. It’s funny how it works out. I don’t regret it,” said Loewen.
This will not be Loewen’s first teaching job. She graduated from Tabor in December and then taught in Solomon for the Spring Semester. While she enjoyed the time spent at Solomon, Tena is ready to settle in to teaching in Hillsboro.
Loewen said, “It was good to get the experience in another district and see how they do things. I learned a lot. It was exciting to see and be a part of all that the school was doing in the community there. But I am ready to have my own classroom that I can set up and get ready. I like being able to make it all my own.”
While some things are similar in Hillsboro to what she experienced as an elementary student or observed as a Tabor student, there are some changes. New things are happening at HES.
“There are a lot of cool things that Hillsboro does. Some things I knew coming into the job, but I have learned about even more in the last few weeks while preparing. Michelle Berens has been awesome. All of the teachers have been very helpful,” said Tena.
She is excited to have second-graders since she spent many hours observing that grade level.
“They are still sweet and excited to learn. They still like teachers although they think we live at the school,” said Loewen. “They are more independent and can start to take some responsibility. They are in awe when they figure things out; when that light bulb comes on. And I love that.”
Even though she has only officially met a few of her students since getting the job, Tena knows many from being in the community and her church.
“I know some of them. Some I know from working at the Igloo. I have babysat some of them, too,” said Loewen.
Loewen feels supported by the community of Hillsboro already.
“It’s nice to be in a community that values education. Teachers are invested and care about their kids (students), and the parents care about how their students are doing.
Many are excited about having Tena Loewen on staff at HES. Principal Evan Yoder is one of them.
“I’m so thrilled to have Tena Loewen on our elementary staff. I’ve had my eye on her since elementary school. Even at that young age she demonstrated empathy toward all and a natural ability to lead. As she worked her way through high school and college, those qualities became all the more apparent. I’ve no doubt Tena Loewen will be a difference maker in our district.”
Loewen is mostly excited to get the kids in the classroom and get started.
“I have pre-game jitters. It’s a little nervous excitement. Like if you weren’t nervous, you haven’t been thinking about it enough.”