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The City Journals

Teacher Spotlight: Jamilya Hankishiyeva love of learning connects with students

Feb 03, 2017 11:13AM ● By Aspen Perry

Jamilya Hankishiyeva teaches her students about the Chinese dynasties on Jan. 11 at the Utah International Charter School. (Travis Barton/City Journals)

By Aspen Perry | [email protected]



From the age of 14 Jamilya Hankishiyeva held the professions of teachers and lawyers in high regard. But, when she had to make a career choice, she took teaching over becoming a lawyer, a decision she has never regretted.


Hankishiyeva has been with the Utah International Charter School (UI) since before its inception, and adores many aspects of teaching, from her own love of learning to enjoying seeing students excited about learning.


“I love learning and there is something new I learn every day about my students and about teaching. It is very rewarding to see students’ progress and think,” said Hankishiyeva.


Aside from almost 20 years in the field, another part of what makes Hankishiyeva such an incredible fit for UI is her life experience. Though Hankishiyeva has been in the United States for 20 years, she was born in the former Soviet Union, and has experienced first hand what it is like to make a new country her home.


“I feel that I understand where my students are coming from because I have been to some of their countries. It helps me to connect to my students,” said Hankishiyeva.


Hankishiyeva’s fluency in other languages help, as well. “Jamilya is the most experienced with English learners… she is fluent in Turkish, which is a second or third language for many refugees,” Principal Angela Rowland said.


Hankishiyeva’s ability to connect with students does not go unnoticed by her fellow teachers. “She is gifted in getting a student to speak and feel comfortable speaking. Since we are a school full of English language learners, the more students can speak, the better,” said Amelie Heyse, a U.S. history and government teacher at UI.


Hankishiyeva started with UI as a member of the planning committee, before the school even opened the doors. It is a time she describes as being exciting, but worrisome due to uncertainty of what would be required to create a comfortable learning environment in a school of students with such varying needs.


“I knew our kids were coming from different schools and different countries, and it was going to take time to get to know each other... [in] our fourth year, I don’t worry anymore,” said Hankishiyeva.


Some might say the collaborative learning model at the core of UI is part of the reason the students and teachers find such success. Hankishiyeva points out how kids are more prone to learn from peers than adults, so in Hankishiyeva’s words, “Why not use it? Working in groups improves student’s academic and social skills… they are more engaged.”


Hankishiyeva’s ability to embrace the collaborative learning model is apparent to those around her, as well. “She is one of the strongest in her use of collaborative groups… other teachers look to her for guidance in this important feature of our learning model,” said Rowland.


Fellow teaching colleague Heyse agrees, “Jamilya is the leader when it comes to classroom routines and group work.”


Not only does Hankishiyeva’s love of teaching carry through in her ability to excel in collaborative group work and class routines, but colleagues can feel the love she puts into her work, as Heyse highlights Hankishiyeva’s energy as one of her favorite aspects when working with her.


Hankishiyeva’s energy is apparent in her willingness to always help the department, as well as the school. An energy her students appear to pick up on, as well.


Heyse said, “I have so many students who come to my class and say that Ms. Hankishiyeva is the best teacher. She truly prepares students to be upperclassmen.”


From a fascination in her mid-teens to making her dream a reality, Hankishiyeva is making a real difference in the lives of her students.