Welcome to our series, #WHYoming, brought to you in partnership by Kaumo Law.
We are highlighting people from around our communities and asking them a few questions. We want to learn a little about them and see why they chose this great state to raise their families, start their businesses, or simply to ask — Why Wyoming?
For this week’s #WHYoming, I had a chance to sit down with Tessa Christiansen, a Special Education teacher at Washington Elementary School in Green River. Tessa was born and raised in Green River and has decided to stay here to teach and raise her 5-year-old daughter.
Tessa is very family oriented and she considers herself lucky to live in the same town as her parents so her daughter can have a close bond with them. She is also a loyal friend and a great role model for her students.
Tessa believes in investing in yourself so you can reach your potential. Despite facing many challenges, she was able to finish her education in Special Education while working full time and being a full time single mother. She has been putting hard work in for several years, and now she’s rocking it as both a teacher and a mom.
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Tessa, what do you do for a living?
I am a Special Education teacher in Green River at Washington Elementary. It is my first year at this school but previously I spent several years at Sage Elementary in Rock Springs where I also worked as a Special Education teacher and a Mentor for new Special Education teachers in the district.
Why did you decide to go into education?
Well I did not initially want to go into education, I had always wanted to be a Pediatrician. Then I smartened up and realized going to school forever was not for me. Although, I suppose I still am going to school forever now too.
My mom was a special education teacher for 30+ years. I got to watch and witness all the things she loved (and hated) about being a teacher, and after I did some shadowing of other teachers in her school, I realized how much I love being around kids and advocating for the things they need to be successful in and out of school.
Can you tell me a little bit about your relationship with your daughter?
My daughter, Camryn, is 5 years old. She is an independent, sassy, unicorn loving ball of energy. She started Kindergarten this year at the same school I am teaching at. I love being able to attend the same school events as her and sneaking into her classroom to say hi!
I asked Camryn how she would describe our relationship and her response was, “Well Momma, you are my bestie!”
What is something unique about you?
I think something about me that is unique is how passionate I am when I put my mind to something. This allows me to meet the goals I set for myself and my family. I am passionate about my students, my daughter, and the things I believe in.
How did you end up in Green River?
I was born and raised here. I even attended the same elementary school that I am teaching at now (which tends to blow the minds of the students I work with).
I graduated from GRHS in 2011 and then attended WWCC for 2 years before moving to Laramie for a short period until I came back here to finish my Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Western Governors University.
What do you appreciate most about our community?
I love the availability we have to nature. We have some amazing scenery and wildlife that not everyone has the opportunity to witness outside their front windows or within a five minute drive. When I travel to bigger cities that is what I appreciate most when I come back.
What do you appreciate most about our community?
I love making and creating things, from school ‘stuff’ to home decor. I also enjoy going camping, fishing, hiking, and boating. This upcoming summer I am hoping to purchase a Kayak so that can become a new hobby!
If you could give one brief piece of advice, what would it be?
Always take a leap of faith in yourself. You have nothing to lose, but everything to gain. When you fail, you become smarter, if you succeed you become more self-confident. You won’t know your limit unless you take the jump, so invest in yourself.
Where is your favorite place to hang out in Sweetwater County?
Anywhere with my family and/or friends tends to be my favorite. Some of our favorite places include the Flaming Gorge and Little Mountain. We also enjoy going to the many events that take place in Green River and Rock Springs like Flaming Gorge Days, Blues and Brews, and the Mountain Man Music Festival.
Would you rather walk, ride a bike, take a horse, or drive a car?
I would rather be a passenger in a truck! One of my favorite things is going cruising down dirt roads jamming out to some country music.
What would you sing at karaoke night?
Ha! Although my friends sing karaoke often. I am not someone who enjoys participating. I would much rather be chatting with my friends or playing some pool or shuffleboard.
How would your friends describe you?
I hope they would describe me as loyal, outgoing, ambitious, and goofy.
What is one of your proudest accomplishments?
Despite some of the rather big challenges thrown my way during college, I was able to preserve through those challenges and finish my graduate degree in Special Education while working full time and being a full time single momma.
Who would you want to play you in a movie about your life?
I would hope there would never be a movie about me, I feel like it would be rather boring. I took one of those silly online quizzes, and it suggested that Kerry Washington would be me. I liked her in Scandal so works for me!
Why do you continue to live in Wyoming?
I could not imagine leaving my family, they are the biggest blessing Wyoming has to offer. Watching my daughter’s relationship with my parents is truly amazing. Grandpa goes above and beyond with ensuring my daughter has a love of nature by going on the same under the stars camping trips he took me on. Grandma and Auntie share the love of baking cookies, painting, crafting, and playing games.