Jackson native found dream job as principal at St. Andrew’s Episcopal School
Growing up, Leanna Range Owens always knew she wanted to be a teacher. The 40-year-old Jackson native went to Callaway High School — “class of ‘87!” — before going to college at the University of Mississippi. Owens earned a bachelor’s degree in business and went on to earn a master’s degree in education.
Owens taught in Memphis, and decided she would love to be an elementary school principal. “But I just didn’t think that would be possible for me,” she sighed. Yet, she kept moving forward, getting a teaching position at St. Andrews Lower School in Jackson. “I spent five years in the classroom at St. Andrews, teaching second and fifth grade before I got the job of principal two years ago.” Owens said she stepped into the position when the former head of the lower school, Jean Jones Downey, retired.
“This is a dream job for me. The very best part of my job is working with both children and teachers. I love going into the classroom and watching the teachers in action, and I love watching the children learn. I feel I was born to be a teacher, so getting into the classroom from time to time inspires me as I carry out my administrative duties.”
Owens is quick to say that her key to success lies in the strong support group she has with her colleagues, family and friends. “Because they care about me, they’ll be the first to tell me when I’m not doing something right. It’s good to have a support group that I can count on to be honest with me.”
One of the coolest experiences Owens has had in her job was a recent mission trip she made to Africa. “I went to Uganda with the Episcopal Diocese of Mississippi for a 12-day mission,” she explained. “We went to learn about their culture, and to work with children who were orphaned by HIV and AIDS. Some of the children even had the disease themselves.”
The most surprising part of her trip was discovering that Uganda had areas of extreme affluence. “The country’s economy is based mainly on oil, minerals, coffee and tea. I learned a lot about the importance of buying ‘free trade’ coffee and tea from being there. As affluent as some areas were, other areas were absolutely poverty-stricken. It’s really not unlike Mississippi in some ways. Overall, the trip was a very interesting experience for me.”
By SUSAN MARQUEZ I contributor