At last month's Park City School District Board of Education meeting, high school principal Bob O'Connor recounted the story of a teacher named Chrissy Schaub for whom he held great respect 15 years ago for her hard work and dedication to the profession. "Jacob Jobe is that caliber of teacher," he said just before announcing Jobe as his choice for Teacher of the Month.
"It was an honor and kind of humbling to be chosen," Jobe said. "It was cool to be recognized, because you do a lot of really hard work behind the scenes and don't really expect to be recognized for that. It's great to know that people see that."
Jobe's self-proclaimed "passion and energy" for his job is apparent when getting him to talk about his students. His first education professor in college told the class, "You don't teach content; you teach kids." He said he tries to remember that every day.
Both of his parents are educators: his mother, a retired art teacher, and his father, an administrator and former math teacher.
Growing up around educators, Jobe decided to become one himself once he graduated from Sentinel High School in Missoula, Mont. in 2007 and began attending college at Colorado Mesa University. He majored in history and minored in English literature, and after graduating in spring of 2011, moved to Utah to ski for a year.
Last spring, after a year of skiing, Jobe was accepted into the two-year graduate program at Westminster College. He said one of his professors had a connection to the Park City School District who let him know they needed an ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher at Treasure Mountain Junior High School. The woman who normally taught the class had taken a maternity leave.
He served as the replacement teacher from February 2013 through the end of the year, and when a job as an English teacher opened up at the high school, Jobe successfully applied for the job.
"The educational community in Park City is really cool, mostly because of the opportunities and resources for the kids that don't exist in other places," he said.
One such resource is the LifeSize camera O'Connor allowed Jobe to install in his classroom both to improve his teaching and conduct research for his Master's thesis. He said his focus is on classroom culture and how to improve it for all students.
"In education, we often do things reactively. We hear things like, 'Test scores are down, so we are going to change this policy or procedure,'" Jobe said. "All this happens without ever looking at a classroom. My students and I reflect on what worked and what didn't, and I can adjust my teaching accordingly."
Jobe said he plans to turn the research into a Ph.D. dissertation, but getting his doctorate doesn't necessarily mean he wants to become a college professor. He said he is more than happy teaching high school.
When speaking about the material he is covering with his junior American Literature class, including "Into the Wild" by John Krakauer and comparing it to transcendentalist authors like Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau, Jobe sits a little straighter and talks a little faster.
His enthusiasm is obvious, and he lights up as he talks about the relation between "Into the Wild's" title character's decision to go out and explore the world and the "big life choices" his students will soon be making as seniors.
"The ending is kind of tragic and sad, but the journey he makes is what makes the story important," Jobe said. "I think the kids can relate to that."
Jobe contemplates attributing his ability to connect with his students to his young age but said he mostly feels that it is his energy and ability to empathize with his students and all the other things they are doing in school besides taking his English class.
He juggles a full-time teaching gig, coaching the boys' soccer team, advising the student group that puts together the PCHS newspaper, The Prospector, and graduate school courses. He said he is up at 3:45 a.m. every day in order to get to school by 5:30 a.m. While it may seem overwhelming for some, Jobe said he enjoys it and hopes to do so for a long time.
"I plan to stay in Park City forever. I just want to keep teaching," he said. "This is my first full year of teaching, so it's been kind of crazy, but next year will be even better."