Nowlin’s 20 years in the district


“What’s my favorite part about my job?  I love the children and watching them succeed,” Judy Nowlin, West Linn High School special education teacher, said.

Nowlin has been working in the West Linn-Wilsonville district for 20 years and her overall teaching career spans over a 25-year period. It has always been in special education with 15 of her teaching years at the high school level.

Nowlin chose her job in special education, as she has always wanted to make a difference in the lives of others. In her line of work Nowlin has certain qualities that make her dream of helping others a reality such as, being persistent and competitive. Another important trait that Nowlin has is that she enjoys change and approaching different techniques to teaching, such as teaching something at a different pace maybe helpful to other students that have not found their classes in the past helpful to them.

Nowlin graduated from Gold Beach Union High School in 1981. She earned her bachelors from Western Oregon University and her master’s degree from University of Oregon. However, she did not stop learning there, as she has continued to learn through her experience.

“Continued education helps you stay interested,” Nowlin said.

Early in college Nowlin hopped from career to career but nothing “clicked for her. She knew she wanted to work with people and provide help for those who needed it.  When she came across teaching, it was a perfect match.

“As a teacher, it can make all the difference if you teach something a little differently, being a little more patient or listening to them and finding out what they need individually,” Nowlin said. “That is what really clicked with me, doing something that other people can’t and really making a difference.”

Nowlin’s favorite part of her job is the students.  She believes a very significant part of her job is the relationship she develops with her students. They captivate her as she watches them grow into young adults and begin to make decisions on their own. Seniors in her classes discuss what future plans they have and how they intend to further their education. Her most memorable moments are when her ex-students walk into her classroom and share with her how successful they have become and how they have done in life. These occurrences let other students know that success is not far from their grasp.

“It’s good to know that I have been able to make a difference in someone’s life,” Nowlin said.

In Nowlin’s 20 years in the district she has seen much improvement in her students and in the program.  The students have more pride in the activities in which that they’re involved and that they are pushing themselves to take more advanced courses such as advanced placement classes. According to Nowlin, the program has improved as it has a commitment to every individual. The commitment is to leave no individual behind and push them to a higher standard of education.

“The program has taught a student that good is not good enough and that there is always room for improvement,” Nowlin said.

Although the program has made vast improvements Nowlin and others in the special education department are sharing their experiences and continuing their learning. They use Goal setting as one of the techniques for inspiring improvement.

“If I could describe my career in just three words it would be I would do it ‘all over again’ I wouldn’t change anything,” Nowlin said.

Nowlin has made many differences among many individual students.

“Nowlin has brought lots of experience in terms of reading and writing and been a positive influence on all of the students in the time that I have known her at the high school.” Greg Bean, learning specialist, said. “She has also been invaluable at helping students prepare for the next step following high school.”