Teaching While Pregnant


Story by Emily White

With West’s abundant staff, it is no surprise that each year there are a few pregnant teachers. However, students do not always know who they are until it is too late.

Ashlin Owensby, an English teacher, is one of the pregnant teachers, however, her students do not yet know of her pregnancy. “I haven’t “officially” told my English classes yet, because I honestly thought they would just kind of find out, but no one has said anything yet! So I guess if they didn’t already know, if they read this, they’ll know!” said Owensby.* “I told my yearbook students I was pregnant, [and] it was a collective “awe” from the group. This is the second year I’ve had those students, so I know them pretty well, and told them first.”

Owensby is not the only pregnant teacher at West, however. Ellen Small, FACS and culinary teacher, is also expecting a little one soon. Small told her students in a very creative way. “I put a food-related riddle on the board to announce to my students that I was pregnant.  They had to work together as a class to find out what the ‘secret message’ was.  It took students a little while but after coming together as a class the students figured out the riddle. The riddle was saying that there is a ‘bun in the oven’,  “a pea in the pod”, which mean I’m ‘prego’,” said Small. “I also sent the same riddle to teachers in an email to tell them!  The students and teachers were really excited! Many of them have been expecting this for a long time and I have a long list of future babysitters if I need them!”

Both Owensby and Small anticipate challenges that come with pregnancies. “ I definitely don’t have as much energy as I used to and I am not drinking caffeine so it’s hard to find the extra boost of energy I need to get through the day. I have to stand most of the day and walk around supervising students working in our kitchens,” said Small.

Owensby has been experiencing similar challenges, saying “I have to snack more during the day, so I come to school with a bagful of food almost every day. Nausea is also a tough thing to deal with, but when I’m at school, I’m busy enough that I don’t notice it as much.”

However, some teachers are not pregnant, yet experience the effects of pregnancy on their work lives.

Math teacher Jeff Nevinski and his wife, for example, are expecting a son very soon. With one kid at already, Nevinski anticipates life to get a little more busy with the arrival of his second kid. “Our daughter is somewhat independent, and our son will be completely dependent for the first several months.  My day to day life will consist of finding way ways to support and love my wife. For example, since she is home all day with our children, I will purposefully try to give her 1-2 hours of time she can spend however she wants each school day.”

Despite the challenges of pregnancy, however, these teachers can assure the students of West that their teaching will not be negatively impacted by their recent lifestyle changes, it might just be a little different. “ Though I love my students, my family has to come first. I think everyone understands that too. I do not plan to be gone from school very long, but while I am gone, students will have to be a little more independent and rely on each other. I’ve tried to be very consistent with my expectations and routines throughout the year, but while I’m gone, no one can replace me and be the same as me in the classroom,” says Nevinski.

Small claims it just might have the opposite effect, however. “I think it has impacted my classes in a positive way because it is a way for me to bond with my students.  I also teach nutrition in my classes and we talk about prenatal nutrition a little so I have been able to share my personal experiences with this,” said Small.

So whether it is nausea, lack of energy, or general pregnancy affects, one thing is sure: Small and Owensby do not plan on letting this new lifestyle get in the way of their teaching opportunities at West.


Since the interview, Owensby has informed her students her pregnancy.




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