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Christine Warren: Supporting the Jackson community through teaching

Former Jackson High School teacher and current school board member Christine Warren sits in front of the old JHS bell in front of the high school. Warren worked for the district for 29 years as a high school English teacher. Photo by Jay Forness

Christine Warren has been a longtime supporter of Jackson and Jackson schools, having been an English teacher at Jackson High School, mentoring future Jackson teachers and currently serving on the Jackson R-2 School Board.

“I’ve always been a teacher, and I’m happy to support Jackson schools,” Warren said. “I used to be the cheerleading sponsor, and I just want to keep on being a cheerleader for the Jackson schools and do whatever we can locally to support our teachers and students.”

Warren grew up between DeSoto and Hillsboro, Missouri, where she attended school in Hillsboro until the middle of her junior year of high school. “My parents broke my heart and moved me to the Mehlville School District,” she said. “I went from high school with 400 total people to a graduating class with 800, and I did not like it.”

Warren said that she remained upset about the move throughout the remainder of her junior year, but during her senior year she met Mrs. Street – an English teacher who convinced her to follow in her footsteps.

“I always wanted to be a teacher,” Warren said. “I was that kid that came home and played school and made my little sister be my student, but I always thought I’d be an elementary teacher. Mrs. Street kept on saying to me how being a high school English teacher was ‘the bomb,’ because it was the 70s, and she talked me into it.”

Warren added that she continued the cycle, talking several of her own students into becoming high school English teachers. “I’ll always be indebted to her, but I’ve had a lot of mentors as I became a teacher,” she said, mentioning fellow teacher Sonja Davis and Karen Kight. “I have met a lot of great people through education.”

She moved to southeast Missouri to attend Southeast Missouri State University. Warren received both her bachelors and masters degree from SEMO. In addition, she met her husband David Warren at SEMO, and the two married right out of college.

Early in her career, Warren taught at St. Vincent High School in Perryville for two years and taught seventh grade at the now-closed Schultz School in Cape Girardeau for one year.

Warren said she found that teaching seventh grade wasn’t for her, so she applied to work at Jackson High School. “When I was hired, four English teachers were hired,” she said. “I couldn’t believe I got one of the positions, and I was glad I wasn’t the only one.”

Warren said she found a home at Jackson High School – becoming involved as a cheerleading coach, academic team sponsor, president of the Community Teacher Association and English department chair.

“I spent 29 years teaching in Jackson,” Warren said. “I always enjoyed it, and I had so many awesome students – many whom I now consider friends. I live in a neighborhood where I feel like former students live in every other house.”

Both of her daughters, Rachel and Leah, graduated from Jackson High School, and Warren said she had many great memories of her time teaching there. “It’s a good place, and I feel like we have a lot of dedicated teachers and good leadership,” she said.

After nearly three decades, Warren left JHS and became an English education instructor at Southeast Missouri State University.

“I really struggled with leaving Jackson High School, but the job opportunity at Southeast came up and I was fortunate to get that job,” she said.

Warren said she found teaching English education at Southeast Missouri State University to be easier than teaching high school students, much to the shock of her colleagues who had only taught at the university level.

“At the university, I felt like they respected my time,” Warren said. “At first I had a lot fewer students. By the end of 10 years, my numbers were very close to what I taught in Jackson, but I would have two to three hours between classes where I could prep and grade. Timewise, teaching at the university was much kinder, but I wouldn’t have traded my time at Jackson.”

After retiring from Southeast, Warren was asked to return to Jackson High School for 10 weeks in the fall of 2022 to help mentor a student teacher. “I went and the school was so different after I had been away for 13 years,” she said. “We were so much bigger, there were so many challenges and teachers were just pouring out their hearts at lunchtime.”

Her experience returning to JHS convinced Warren to run for Jackson’s school board. “I had some God moments during that campaign, but I thought I had been retired for years now, that I still had expertise and I wanted to try to help those teachers,” she said.

Warren won a seat on the school board in April 2023. As the only former teacher currently on the school board, she said she tries to provide a teacher’s perspective. “It’s very interesting and there’s so much that schools do,” Warren said. “I still have a lot to learn, but I enjoy it.”

In addition to the school board, Warren is also involved at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, volunteers at the SEMO Food Bank in Sikeston and is a regular blood donor. She also maintains a free little library in her yard.

Warren said she lives on “the most beautiful street in Jackson” with her husband of 47 years and their two Boston terriers – Bossie and Gertie. She said she loves the beauty of Jackson, where it can still feel like the country in some areas.

“Jackson is just small enough,” Warren said. “I feel like I can go out and be welcomed, but yet, if I want to, I can also be incognito. I feel like we’re not controversial, which is what I appreciate. It’s just a nice place, and there’s a lot of good people.”

Warren said it has been great to see Jackson grow with new shopping options opening, but there are challenges for the schools related to Jackson’s growth. “If people are moving to our community for our schools, I hope that they see the need to support those schools,” she said.

Jay Forness covers education, county government and community events for The Cash-Book Journal. He graduated from Southeast Missouri State University with a degree in multimedia journalism and has lived in Jackson for the past five years. He can be reached at cbjedit@socket.net.

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