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Chad Ryan | The Journal Gazette
Noah Ehrman, 7, and Jill Furniss count squares used for math Friday at Washington Center Elementary School.

Teacher Honor Roll: Jill Furniss, Washington Center Elementary

Jill Furniss

School: Washington Center Elementary, Fort Wayne Community Schools

Grade/Subject teaching: I teach third grade at Washington Center, but I previously taught at Towles Montessori for six years.

Education: Bachelor's degree in psychology from IPFW and a master's degree from Taylor University. I then earned my teaching certificate from Taylor University.

Years teaching : This will be my seventh year of teaching. Before that I worked for Easter Seals Arc, running the workshop that helps adults with disabilities find jobs.

City born: Fort Wayne

City raised: Kendallville

Current hometown: Fort Wayne

Family: I am married to Ken Furniss. We've been married for 18 years. We have one daughter, Savannah. She is 15 and a sophomore at Carroll High School. We have a dog named Jacques, two cats named Sophie and Stache, and a turtle named Einstein.

Last book read: For pleasure, "The Paris Wife" by Paula McLain; for work, "Guiding Readers and Writers" by Irene Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell

Favorite teacher: Mrs. Kelly, my fourth-grade teacher at Avilla Elementary and Mr. Harris, my middle school math teacher. Mrs. Kelly inspired me with everything she said and did. She made me believe I could do or be anything I wanted to be.

Mr. Harris also inspired me. I tested into the algebra class in my eighth-grade year, which was a big honor back then. The second or third week of school I had to have an unexpected surgery and was out of school for six weeks.

Mr. Harris came to my house and tutored me so I could stay in that class. He was an amazing man.

Favorite class in school: When I was in school, I would have said English, literature and theater. Now I love teaching math more than anything.

Favorite teaching memory : I think all my teaching memories involve that aha moment when a child's eyes light up because they just got it. They are so excited that they learned a new skill, it just opens one more door for them. That's what I believe I am here for – to empower kids so they can open any door to any future they dream of.

What's a concept you've learned during a professional development activity that you use in the classroom: Teaching is more than preparing kids for a test or teaching a concept out of a book. It has to be an experience and it has to meet the needs of that child, wherever that child is at that moment. Then take that child as far as they can go and hopefully they learn to love learning in that process.

Nominated by: Katina Ehrman, parent

Reason for nomination: "Mrs. Furniss has went above and beyond for my son and all kids in her class. She shows what a truly amazing teacher is everyday.

"During the summer she tutored him every week because she knew he was struggling with focus and reading. This school year she is not his teacher but when I reached out to her for some suggestions that worked last year she once again offered to tutor him every week.

"She takes the time to know her kids and find what it takes to help them learn. She is truly a blessing and she is a great model of what a great teacher is."

– Julie Crothers, The Journal Gazette


•The Indiana Academy of Science is offering junior research grants of up to $300 for students in grades 9 to 12. For more information, go online to The deadline for submissions is Oct. 25.

•Mediacom Communications is offering $60,000 in scholarship support for high school students who are seniors and plan to obtain further education. The scholarships are available at $1,000 each for 60 students. Completed applications are due on or before Feb. 15. Applications can be found online at

Saint Francis

•Two University of Saint Francis faculty members were recently recognized for excellence in teaching. Professor Dr. David Johnson received the 2012-13 Leepoxy Award for Teaching Excellence and Professor Rita Deininger was awarded the 2012-13 Teaching Excellence and Campus Leadership Award.

•Bishop Kevin Rhoades of the Fort Wayne-South Bend Catholic Diocese will present "On Same Sex Marriage" at 7 p.m. Thursday in the University of Saint Francis' north campus auditorium.

•The University of Saint Francis Department of English and Foreign Language will host author Matt Hart for a free poetry reading at 7 p.m. Nov. 13 in the student center. The community is invited to attend.

Grace College

•The Department of Online Education at Grace College recently presented information about online education during a conference hosted by Learning House after receiving a 100 percent rating for the college's principles of management class. This is the first time a school has ever achieved a 100 percent rating.

Do you have a favorite teacher? Please send us your nominations, including the teacher's name, school, school district and grade/subject taught as well as your name, phone number and reason for your nomination. Nominations can be sent to Julie Crothers at The Journal Gazette, 600 W. Main St., Fort Wayne, IN 46802, faxed to 461-8893 or emailed to