Jen Lowe teaches AP English, English 12 and improving test skills, but she has also taught a lot of other classes in the 20 years she has been teaching at Altoona. James Lowe teaches honors and academic American studies and has taught all of the American history courses at some point in the 32 years he has been teaching.
If they didn’t become teachers, their desired profession would be close to what they do now.
“For me I kind of gravitate toward writing. I did a lot of journalism when I was in high school and college myself, so I might have gone into reporting or maybe the field of publishing. I don’t know if I have the chops to being a writer when it comes to writing a novel, but I think I would be successful being an editor,” Jen said.
“I think if I wasn’t a teacher I would like to be a park ranger for the National Park Service, then I’d get to spend my day at battle fields or national parks like Yellowstone and other places like that,” James said.
The Lowes met at the high school during the summer of Jen’s first year at Altoona.
“We actually met in my classroom when she was just a new teacher at Altoona and didn’t really know how things worked. She actually walked into my classroom and was looking for a key to get into her room. It was during the summer and no one had keys, so I loaned her a key to get into her room. Later on that same year she borrowed a projector from me because back then all of the projectors were on the ceiling, and I was one of the first classrooms to have them on a cart and she asked to borrow it. Long story short, she ended up giving it to the custodian who bolted it to the ceiling. So, my first impression was ‘I can’t believe this person gave my projector away which I paid a grant for.’ It was also bolted to the ceiling of another classroom, not mine. The superintendent actually told them to bolt it to the ceiling for a meeting, so I actually got a new projector out of it, but for about 48 hours I thought she was crazy allowing something she borrowed to be bolted to the ceiling,” James said.
The Lowes love to travel, so having the summer off together is a great benefit.
“We like to travel, and specifically, we have a passion for the national parks. We have the freedom to go on extended road trips and spend enough time,” Jen said.
“We do a two to four week road trip across the country, and we pick from a place and visit national parks and other sites. There are over 400 sites, and we have now been to over half of them. We just enjoy the outdoors and hiking. We couldn’t do that if we didn’t work the same job and have the same time off in the summer,” James said.
For the Lowes, being in the same work environment is a really good thing.
“For us it is really nice because we are like each other’s best friend. Some people might get sick of each other if they were around each other all the time, but it works really well for us and it is a great convenience being able to ride together and we just enjoy each other’s company. We can also understand any problems that the other is going through because we work at the same place,” Jen said.
“We enjoy working and spending time together, so it doesn’t really change where we are. It is convenient to drive together and go to the same after school meetings. We can also go to support our students at football games on Friday nights and go to the school plays. We have had a lot of the same students,” James said.
Now that the Lowes are in separate buildings, they don’t see each other that often.
“It has been maybe once or twice this year where one of us has made a specific effort to go to the other’s room. When we used to be in the same building we would eat lunch together, but now it’s basically that we arrive together and say ‘see you at the end of the day’ and that’s it,” James said.
The Lowes have had some great memories teaching at the same school.
“One time we were at an assembly, and it was some type of competition, and the reward was that I got to put a pie in Mrs. Lowe’s face in front of the whole student body. Also a good memory would be the year we won the state championship for Mock Trial which is a really difficult thing to do. There are nearly 500 schools who compete in that and being the number one school in the state at that time was remarkable, and we both were actually coaching at the same time. It was just a super experience to get to share that with her. This year when we were first learning how to set up a Google Meet, she would sit upstairs, and I would stay downstairs. We would both log onto Google Meet and try different things, and we would be able to see what the students could see by practicing on each other,” James said.
“The years that we taught the same sophomores were really nice because we would have like half of the students in common, and they would joke about having a ‘double dose of the Lowes’ and it was nice because we got to know everyone a little bit more,” Jen said.
The only challenge of working together is students getting their emails mixed up, due to having the same initial and last name. Although that can be a challenge, the Lowes ultimately love working together.
“Just the fact that we get to share and enjoy the love of teaching is awesome. Teaching is such an awesome profession that you get to have an impact on students’ lives and help them progress. The fact that we can come home and share all of the things that have happened during the school day I think is really awesome,” James said.