About Jillian

I’m a Portlander and elementary school teacher, recently back at home after having lived and taught around the globe. I’m entering my eleventh year of teaching, seven of which were overseas in China, Turkey and Brazil. I’ve recently wrapped up my latest learning adventure with MSU’s MAET program in Galway–having graduated in July 2014! My husband and I have also just had our first baby–our latest adventure–here in Portland, Oregon.

Jill Desi Starfish Edited

Crabbing in Newport, Oregon

My professional teaching journey started after having graduated from University of Portland with a double major in Elementary Education and Spanish, and having lived and studied abroad in Granada, Spain. I moved to Phoenix, AZ where I taught a homeroom Welcome Room for 4th-6th Grade immigrants and refugees from around the world. Soon after moving to Phoenix, I met my soon-to-be husband and after a few years together there, we decided to take our teaching team on the road overseas to China. I taught 1st Grade in a small, international school. I realized there, that while I loved teaching upper elementary, 1st Grade was my real home. We then found ourselves in lovely Turkey where I taught Language Arts in English to my 5th and 6th Grade Turkish students in İstanbul. It complemented my experience well, as I got to strictly focus on reading and writing with ELL students, not something I was able to focus all of my professional time on before. What’s more, my husband and I were able to put our MAET learning into action. We spend much of our time brainstorming and planning how to support our lessons with technology. What’s coming up this next school year? I’m staying at home part-time to raise our son and looking forward to getting back into Oregon classrooms–in whatever exciting part-time form that takes!


Portland, Or. and Ildir, Turkey

Outside of school, I love to spend time visiting historical places around our host country, shoe-shopping, hiking, doing yoga, dancing, drawing and painting, volunteering in the local community, and studying Spanish. In my free time with my husband, we often barbecue, travel, watch basketball and football, go to live university sporting events or concerts, explore the Oregon landscape, and spend time with our two adopted Turkish cats–and now our baby boy, Rio, too!