Finding a passion: Heather Jaramillo ’13 inspires students in the classroom and on the court
Aug 06, 2016
From the time she was a child, Heather Jaramillo has been passionate about basketball. She played as a child, eventually playing for Sweetwater High School and then Tennessee Wesleyan. Receiving a full scholarship to play both basketball and softball was a big factor in Jaramillo’s decision to attend Tennessee Wesleyan, and she credits her teammates and coaching staff for helping her to have a memorable experience.
“Coming from Sweetwater, I wasn’t the best in the county or even within this area,” she said. “You’re nervous stepping up to a higher league in sports. I think coming here felt so easy once I was meshed in. It felt like I was where I was supposed to be. It went perfectly. The coaching staff was more than welcoming as far as helping with anything we had questions with. All the current students were willing to help, talking about teachers you might want to study extra for, or whether it was classes you should take. The memories I have with those girls, it’s something I wouldn’t give up.”
She played basketball throughout her time at Wesleyan, competing in three national tournaments. Now, as a physical education teacher and basketball coach at Sweetwater High, her passion for the sport carries over into the lessons she teaches her students, both in the classroom and on the basketball court. Rather than focusing solely on the technique and rules of the game, Jaramillo teaches her players life skills through sports.
“Something that I tell my kids a lot is there’s more to basketball than just the game,” Jaramillo said. “A lot of things I coach is more than just how to play. It’s not just x’s and o’s. It’s not just how to guard someone. It’s about perseverance. It’s dedication. It’s heart. It’s passion. That’s one thing that I’m constantly explaining to them is whatever you want to do in life, have a passion for it. Put forth the best effort always. Not just lackadaisical, not just going through the motions, but putting forth every moment the maximum effort.”
Being a teacher and coach was not always Jaramillo’s dream job. The elementary education and accounting double major was not sure which route she would choose when she graduated from Tennessee Wesleyan in 2013.
“After I graduated, I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do, so I prayed and asked God to lead me in the right direction because I loved both [accounting and teaching],” she said. “I could see myself doing either. Less than a week after graduation, I got a phone call from a teacher saying there was a job opening at Niota Elementary. I went for the job interview, and I was offered that same day. I was shocked. Most everybody had told me that you go for an interview and you don’t hear back for another week. I wasn’t expecting it. I wasn’t prepared to accept a job at that point. I called them later that day asking if they could give me a couple hours to talk about it with my parents and my fiancé, and I accepted the job that day. It was less than a week after I graduated and I had a job. I was very shocked. I took it as God had opened a door and it was immediate. It was an answered prayer.”
Jaramillo taught at Niota Elementary School for two years before earning her high school teaching endorsement and returning to Sweetwater High School.
“I had never intended on going to the high school level,” she said. “I got my endorsement for high school and it was like another door opened. Everything just fell right into place for everything to happen, and it was a God thing. I don’t think it was anything. I don’t think it would have happened any other way had He not opened that door, and I think it’s exactly where I need to be.”
While returning to teach at her high school started out as a surreal experience, Jaramillo enjoys getting to see her school from the point of view of a teacher. As both a coach and a teacher, she takes a personal interest in all of her students, encouraging them in their dreams and supporting them through any obstacles they face.
“Sweetwater is a lower economic area, so you see a lot of kids struggling that you just want to help,” Jaramillo said. “I think the most meaningful part of teaching is these students, these children…across the board, they need someone who shows that they care. They want someone to take an interest in their life, whether it’s about academics or not. You’re asking them what did you do over the weekend or what’s your favorite TV show. If you’re showing interest in sakaldan saç ekimi their life, you’ll see a change in how they treat you and how they treat others.”
Finding a passion, whether for sports, academics or something else, and maintaining a positive outlook on life are two lessons Jaramillo tries to instill in all of her students and players.
“Being a coach, I’ve had to think about what do I want these girls to see from me, what do I want them to gain from me being a coach, and it’s more than just the sports aspect,” she said. “Being passionate Saç Ekimi is my main thing, but also being positive. If you go through your life and you’re always negative, you’re always going to get negative results. When you’re positive and trying to be the best person you can be, you’re going to gain more from that. I think that has been my overall theme of being a teacher. My kids know I’m passionate about sports, and they also know I’m passionate about teaching them. It’s more than just the academic side. It’s the how to be a solid person outside of school, whether saç ekimi fiyatı that’s being on time, whether that’s being passionate, whether that’s being positive, whether that’s being a good friend. Because that’s something these kids may not see at home. That’s where I come in and show them that it’s OK that if you haven’t had this in the past, it doesn’t have to define you. Your circumstances don’t have to define who you want to be.”