Get to Know a Kaneland Teacher

Jennifer Hoemann grew up as a middle child with two sisters, Amanda and Michelle, in Northwest Indiana. “If you look up the most popular baby names in those three years; They were Michelle, Amanda, and Jennifer!” Hoemann said. She lived in the same house until she left for college at 18. 

Hoemann smiles as she recalls a memory of her and her sisters when they were young. It was snowing outside and her and her sisters had the idea to flood the front lawn so they could go ice skating. So they begged their mom to let them do it and she wouldn’t let them. “So on the whole side of our house we wrote ‘mean mom’. You could see it from the main street in our neighborhood,” Hoemann said laughing. Her and her sisters, although close in age, didn’t get into too much trouble living together. “I mean, really you should feel bad for my dad!”    

Growing up, Hoemann had many career ideas. At one point she wanted to be a standup comedian. She also considered being a school soccer coach at a young age. “I didn’t really realize that isn’t a career you can just go into, it’s just dads volunteering.” Nonetheless her coaching career might not have gone far, Hoemann is notoriously known for being a klutz. “I was always falling down stairs and upstairs. My mom was always like, ‘I know the difference between a Jenny-really-hurt-herself-scream and an I’ll-be-fine-scream,’ which is sad! Nothing much has changed in my adult life either.” she chuckles. Nursing was always on the table for Hoemann, “Who knows. If I was 15 years younger I might still consider it.” So that became part of the reason why she began her degree in speech pathology freshman year of college. “I still would’ve worked in schools. I probably would have been a nurse if it wasn’t that. I’m definitely a helper kind of person. But I was horrible at speech pathology.” Hoemann used to go to a speech pathologist herself when she was younger. “I had trouble with my R’s and W’s. I remember saying ‘wed wagon, wed wagon’ and if I talk too fast I still do it sometimes.”

 Hoemann had a lot of trouble with the content of her classes and started having second thoughts about her degree. Luckily, her freshman year of college she had a great biology teacher, and felt inspired. So, she went on to become a biology teacher. Hoemann has been teaching at Kaneland High School for 21 years now, and she taught in Griffith, Indiana for two years before that. “I grew up right by there and I decided I did not want to live in Northwest Indiana for the rest of my life.”

 While still living in Indiana, her husband at the time had been in the Coast Guard and was going to school for free in Illinois so that’s how she ended up here. “I actually never applied to Kaneland High School. It was July and they were desperate because there was no science teacher. So they got my application from Geneva.” Hoemann now lives in Geneva with her boyfriend of seven years, Bryan, and his two sons, a 7th grader and a sophomore, about half the time. She also lives with three pets. A dachshund named Dodie, a “slightly evil” black cat named Tidbit and an almost 17-year-old golden retriever that they got from Bryan’s father when he went into assisted living about a year ago. “If I had it my way, we would have 15 dogs so it’s good that Bryan keeps me in check.” Hoemann recalls how hard it was for her to move out of Indiana and other big changes in her life. “Getting divorced kind of sucked. But it’s one of those things looking back you get over it and I’m much happier now. There’s things at the time that seem like they’re the end of the world and then, they’re not.” 

When asked about other big turning points in her life, Hoemann smiled and said, “I learned to walk again. That was exciting. “About two years ago, Hoemann got really sick and ended up being in the hospital for six months. “I ended up losing my leg. It took probably eight months to learn to walk again. I went from a wheelchair to a walker to crutches, back to a wheelchair, back to crutches. Then finally being able to walk with the prosthetic.” She ended up getting sick at the beginning of the school year and would tell her doctors, “I’ll go back after Thanksgiving!” and they’d laugh at me. “I’ll go back after Christmas!” and they’d laugh at me.” She ended up going back to teaching the following school year. “Then 2020 hit,” she says angrily, “that is why I’m home.” When asked if talking about what happened to her bothers her she said, “Nope. I teach anatomy and physiology and I’ve had so many things go wrong with me over the years that I have X-rays and scans and MRI’s. I have so much to share so no, it doesn’t bother me at all.” 

Hoemann has been teaching four classes virtually this school year. She teaches applications of technology, biology, chemistry and physics to remote students at Kaneland. “Three of those I’ve never taught before! But I’m actually enjoying it. I’m learning stuff too, I guess.” Hoemann feels that her personal experience as a remote teacher during COVID-19 has gone very well. She gets to have more one-on-one time with her students and loves that she can see their faces. “My commute is easy,” Hoemann jokes. She has a lot of respect for teachers and students dealing with doing both remote and in-person school. “All the sanitizing! I can’t even imagine.” While Hoemann is out of the classroom there is a teacher filling in for her in-school biology class. School had already started and they hadn’t found a teacher to fill for her so she went on Facebook and sent out a message letting people know that Kaneland needed a teacher to teach Biology for the upcoming year. The teacher that is now in her place is one of her former students’ roommates. Since she has been home for almost a year, she misses her family very much. Apart from her sisters living in California and Texas and her parents living in North Carolina, she hasn’t seen her family since her sister’s wedding in December of 2019. Luckily, teachers are next on the list for the COVID-19 vaccine and she should be back to In-person teaching by next school year, if not sooner.

Hoemann says she has been lonely since she started social distancing in March of 2020. Bryan works at a textbook company called Houghton Mifflin in Batavia and he’s been working from home the whole time too. “We haven’t killed each other yet. That’s a good sign.” She jokes that her and her boyfriend need to stay on opposite sides of the house while working. “I’m not that loud but he’s just loud. There’s no missing him,” Hoemann laughs. 

When asked what Hoemann is passionate about, she answered firmly, “My friends. My family. Being nice to people. My mom always says “kill ’em with kindness” and I probably forgive people too easily but I like to see the good in things.” She believes that treating people with kindness and compassion is her biggest belief system. “Even when stuffs going to crap you still try to seek out the positives,” Hoemann says with a smile. She sighs and sits for a moment, still smiling.