My name is Jill Newhart-Fortner.

About Me: I live in Chesapeake, VA with my husband Brian and my two daughters, Alexandra and Allison. I also have a Golden Retriever named Zoe. My older daughter is 12 and in 6th grade and my younger daughter is 8 and in the 3rd grade. I have lived in Chesapeake all my life except for two years when I lived in Germany. I loved living there and traveled with my swim team all over Europe. It is my hope that I will be able to take my daughters and my husband to Germany one day to see where we used to live.

I am a Recreation Specialist for the City of Virginia Beach in Parks and Recreation. I work in the Aquatics Department and I enjoy my job. As part of my job, I go to Virginia Beach Elementary Schools and teach children about Water Safety. I have been a lifeguard for 15 years, a swim instructor for 12 years, and I teach lifeguarding courses to certify lifeguards. I also help to coach a recreational swim team and in my spare time I officiate High School swim and dive meets.

I am attending ODU in pursuit of my degree in Teacher preparation, PK-6. It is difficult to work full time, have a family and go to school but achieving my goal to receive my degree is very important to me and my family. To set an example for my daughters is also a motivation for me to finish.

My Education Philosophy: I believe that education is the key to all doors. Everyone should have the chance to establish the foundation that education provides. I think that it is important for educators to understand that students learn in different ways, it can take new ways to introduce knowledge to have the ability to reach the diverse learner. I believe that all children have the potential to be successful in their educational endeavors, it is the job as an educator for us to do our very best to get to know our students and by doing that we know their strengths and weaknesses so that we are able to relate to them on their level. It has been my experience as an aquatics teacher that students learn better when they trust their teacher. I know that many students come from very diverse backgrounds and experiences, teaching gives educators a chance to be a positive role model while providing knowledge. I can honestly say that teaching would be fulfilling a lifelong dream. There are many ways that I have already had the pleasure of seeing how my hard work and dedication to students can make a difference. By teaching someone to swim and watch them have the ability to actually swim the length of the pool or teaching a lifeguard and taking my family to the beach and seeing one of my guards in the stand. Those are days that make all the struggles worth it and I know that teaching in an elementary setting will also have those great rewards. I have had many positive experiences in education and each teacher that has been influential in my life in a positive way, always made learning interesting and exciting. I hope that I can also have that influence on my students one day.

If you would like to know more about efforts to teach disadvantaged youth to swim, please click the link that will take you to USA Swimming's website: Make a Splash