Public Education Matters

As families gather for the holidays, we know there will be a wide variety of conversation topics. And, we know at least some families - where two or more generations are educators in Ohio's public schools - will be talking shop. In this special "A Legacy of Education" installment, we have a wide-ranging conversation with a mother-daughter educator duo about everything from the Senate Bill 5 fight to their worries about the future of the profession to their shared love for their students.

Show Notes

A Legacy of Education: Jillian Majzan & Stephanie Hall - Season 3, Episode 15
As families gather for the holidays, we know there will be a wide variety of conversation topics. And, we know at least some families - where two or more generations are educators in Ohio's public schools - will be talking shop. In this special "A Legacy of Education" installment, we have a wide-ranging conversation with a mother-daughter educator duo about everything from the Senate Bill 5 fight to their worries about the future of the profession to their shared love for their students. 
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Featured Education Matters guest: 
  • Jillian Majzan, Middletown City Schools
    • Jillian Majzan is a middle school language arts teacher in the Middletown City school district but previously taught in Dayton Public Schools for four years. She is also a ONE Member Ambassador. Jillian has a bachelor's degree in Education from Bowling Green State University, a Master's Degree in Exceptional Student Education from Southeastern University, and is working on another Master's program with a focus on Educational Policy and Law. In her spare time, Jillian loves to read, spend time with her fur babies (Atticus, Pip, and Estella), shop, and go on mini adventures with her husband Andrew! She is a passionate advocate for public education and unions and feels lucky to be a part of one! 
  • Stephanie Hall, Dayton Public Schools
    • Stephanie Hall is a Speech Language Pathologist in the Dayton Public School District. She has a bachelor's degree in Hearing and Speech Sciences and a master's degree in Speech Pathology from Ohio University. She is currently in her 32nd year of teaching and is looking forward to retiring in 2025! She loves spending time with her family, especially her daughter Jillian! She loves listening to Audible while walking her dog Ava and watching television with her cat Tootles Pan. 
Connect with OEA:
About us:
  • The Ohio Education Association represents about 120,000 teachers, faculty members and support professionals who work in Ohio’s schools, colleges, and universities to help improve public education and the lives of Ohio’s children. OEA members provide professional services to benefit students, schools, and the public in virtually every position needed to run Ohio’s schools.
  • Education Matters host Katie Olmsted serves as Media Relations Consultant for the Ohio Education Association. She joined OEA in May, 2020, after a ten-year career as a television reporter, anchor, and producer. Katie comes from a family of educators and is passionate about telling educators' stories and advocating for Ohio's students. She lives in Central Ohio with her husband and two young children.
This episode was recorded on November 17, 2022.

What is Public Education Matters?

Ohio's public schools serve 1.6 million children - 90 percent of students in the state! What happens in the classroom has impacts far beyond the walls of the K-12 school building or higher ed lecture hall. So, on behalf of the 120,000 members of the Ohio Education Association, we're taking a deeper dive into some of the many education issues facing our students, educators, and communities. Originally launched in 2021 as Education Matters, Public Education Matters is your source for insightful conversations with the people who shape the education landscape in Ohio. Have a topic you'd like to hear about on Public Education Matters? Email us at

Intro 0:07
This is Education Matters, brought to you by the Ohio Education Association.

Katie Olmsted 0:15
Welcome back to Education Matters. I'm Katie Olmsted, part of the communications team for the Ohio Education Association and your host for this weekly Education Matters podcast. This week, lots of families around Ohio and around the world are sitting down together for holiday meals, talking about their lives, the state of the world, their dreams for the year ahead. And we know at least some families are just talking shop. These are families where at least two generations are working in the education profession, where a child has followed a parent's footsteps into a career in a public school district. And up until this year, Jillian Majzan and her mom Stephanie Hall, were working in the same school district. Jillian as a middle school English language arts teacher, Stephanie as a speech language pathologist for the past 32 years. Both women sharing the unique challenges and triumphs that come with working in the same district; both women supporting each other through each school year serving Dayton Public School students. Now in her fifth year of teaching, Jillian started working this year in Middletown schools, so no doubt there will be some fresh material and a new layer to the conversation around the holiday dinner table this time around. But first, we asked Jillian and Stephanie to have a conversation with us for this installment in our special "A Legacy of Education" series.

Katie Olmsted 1:49
Jillian Majzan, Stephanie Hall, thank you so much for sitting down with us. So exciting not just to have two wonderful educators on the podcast, but for those of you who are sitting at home and are listening to the audio only, I have two wonderful educators sitting in the same room to talk with me today because you are still very close. Talk to me a little bit about what it's been like for you. I know you were both in the same district for the last four years until this one.

Stephanie Hall 2:18
Right. It was great having her follow me at Dayton Public Schools. It was like she already had a family there because all my friends I've known her since she was in utero. So she had extra parents at many, many buildings throughout the district. So at our opening convocation, everybody was coming up and saying, so they're so happy that she joined us it was was really nice.

Jillian Majzan 2:42
And as a baby teacher, that was great to have such a immediate built in support group right from the beginning. It's definitely something that I miss. This year, being in a brand new district, I miss that immediate support. So it was great being in the same district, we had that immediate bond we had, you know, was it just a phone call away. Of course, she still is. But it was much more convenient then.

Katie Olmsted 3:07
Have you leaned pretty heavily on your mom as a new educator, just asking for her advice?

Jillian Majzan 3:13
Definitely, especially within the same district. Because as much as the people in your life that are not educators try to empathize and understand the way your day went, and the problems that arose within your day and your classroom management challenges, no one will ever understand it as well as someone who is also living it. And the best part about having a mom is that it's not a competition. You know, she's not trying to compete with me over who's day was worse. She's just like, wow, that sucks. I can't believe that happened to you today. How is it gonna go tomorrow? And my first year teaching, I still lived at home. And I really thank everything for that, because I had so many times where I just came home crying, and, you know, having her there to just pat me on the back and sit with me and say, this sucks today. You know, and just be sad with me and know that it was a tough day and sit there and know how hard it was for me to wake up and keep going the next day and continue to encourage me to push through. Because those first couple of years were so hard. And I don't know if I would have made it without her support there all the time. And that firsthand experience that she had within the same district was I think so crucial to that because she just understood it on such another level.

Stephanie Hall 4:46
Stephanie, did you always want Julian to be an educator like you? Oh, they're both shaking their head. No. Okay. There's a story here I can tell what's going on.

Stephanie Hall 4:58
She always wanted to be a teacher. I mean, I knew I couldn't dissuade her. I mean, my principal at my one of my elementary schools gave her an overhead projector. When our technology updated, she wrote a note to Mrs. Kid and asked her if she could have an overhead projector. And she gave her an overhead and bulbs and Jillie would teach her dad and I upstairs, he was always the bad kid.

Jillian Majzan 5:23
Nothing prepared me more for teaching. And my dad throwing his papers on the floor saying, I'm not doing this.

Katie Olmsted 5:34
Oh, my goodness.

Stephanie Hall 5:36
Yeah. But it's it's a scary profession. Sometimes. It's just, you know, especially in the inner city, you know, is she being a middle school teacher? She got to the roughest school in the district. And yeah, we were we were a little more. I mean, I really feel like she did a lot of service to her kids in those four years. I mean, she was a really strong, new teacher,

Katie Olmsted 5:57
Stephanie, what do you love about being an educator? What difference do you make?

Stephanie Hall 6:02
I love my kids, if I could just see kids all day, every day, it would be wonderful. The paperwork is getting so out of hand and special education, though. I had a three and a half hour meeting with lawyers today. So that's what gets frustrating. I love having pulled my small groups out. All the kids in the class want to come with me. They don't know what the kids that come with me do. But they know that they always have fun and that they're singled out for extra attention. So I just really, I don't know, if I would have lasted 32 years in a classroom, though. I've never had to do that type of classroom management, because I've just had small groups. And if I go in classes with special ed kids who are, you know, calmer, usually.

Jillian Majzan 6:45
It's a lot. There's, there's a big learning curve, and there's not a lot of support.

Stephanie Hall 6:51

Katie Olmsted 6:52
Yeah, and I mean, I hear that across the board, those first, those first years are extremely rough.

Jillian Majzan 6:59
And I feel like I'm just now hitting my stride. Like in year five. So,

Katie Olmsted 7:05
So now that your heads above water, what do you love about teaching, Jillian?

Jillian Majzan 7:11
I love my kids too, and I know that's a cliche answer. But I love my kids. I mean, they, I truly this year, now that I have hit my stride, I think with content and my management, like, I feel like I'm actually able to enjoy my kids more than I have in any other year, because I am finally at a place where I have finally leveled out, which is kind of funny, because you spend so many years, I think, in those first couple, just like in fight or flight, you know, because you're like, oh, I have so many things to manage, everything's getting thrown at me and you're just trying to not sink and just constantly keep your head above water. Now that I can finally manage everything, and I've got systems in place, like I can actually take a breath and actually enjoy it and kind of be along for the ride and, you know, let my hair down a little bit and joke with them. And we still get the same amount of things done. And I don't feel like I have to be at school until four o'clock at night, you know, so there's, I'm finally getting some peace with it. And so I think I'm able to have a little bit more fun with them. So it's, it's been good.

Katie Olmsted 8:27
Unfortunately, while you're finally at peace with your own skills, it's all against this backdrop of what feels just like increasing attacks on the profession. Education, public education, our public educators have somehow found themselves in the middle of these culture wars that they have nothing to do with, because we have some, you know, people out there who are who are trying to just score cheap political points and control the narrative. What is that like for you?

Jillian Majzan 8:59
It's exhausting. It's exhausting. And it's demeaning. It feels like, I have a master's degree and a half. And, you know, I spent years studying child development and I see things. You know, today NEA actually posted that educators know what their students need. And a politician posted that know their parents know more. And -

Katie Olmsted 9:30
Betsy DeVos. Betsy DeVos posted that, so listeners of this podcast know exactly who -

Jillian Majzan 9:36
Cruella DeVos in this household posted. Anyway, it's just it's to me it's just incorrect. Cuz I studied for multiple multiple years child development and how to apply my love of the content of English Language and Literature and speaking and listening and citizenship skills to adolescent minds. I feel like I know how to reach kids better than their parents when it comes to that content area. And so it's just, it's very frustrating. And I just, it's very sad to see that the nation is just not trusting teachers, because I don't know. I'm at a loss for words, honestly, it's just it's very upsetting.

Stephanie Hall 10:34
And every profession, teachers teach every profession. I mean, nobody would be anywhere if they couldn't read if they couldn't speak if, you know, it all goes back to teachers. And we're so undervalued and unappreciated. And, you know, even even within our own districts, we have to fight, fight fight, every two years, we have to fight to just have a contract that we're not losing more and backsliding. You know, we don't get raises, and it's just like, we're not valued by many.

Jillian Majzan 11:05
But at the same time, they they can't staff their buildings.

Stephanie Hall 11:08
Exactly. And they wonder why.

Katie Olmsted 11:10
So it is November 17, the day I'm talking to you, and Dayton, just got a contract. It was a hard fight getting this contract. And being in the same district together, you guys have been through this.

Stephanie Hall 11:25

Katie Olmsted 11:27
Talk to me a little bit about what it's like doing that as a family. I mean, when you're both, you know, thinking about maybe going out on the line, that's gonna be scary.

Stephanie Hall 11:37
Yeah, it was scary. Was it your first year that we -

Jillian Majzan 11:41
So it was right before -

Stephanie Hall 11:43
Yeah. We got really close to striking her senior year in college. And we were having picnics, union picnics over the summer, she came to all those, we had signs made up. She participated in all that stuff. But you know, she wasn't around for what I did go on strike in '92. But it's not fun. You know, it's like you never catch up financially. I don't know. It's just it's very stressful. And we were all I mean, we got had like an ad high 80s approval of the contract. I think just because everybody's so afraid to go out on strike. I mean, it's like, if you're not taking a lot of way, then we'll say yes, because we don't want to go on strike.

Katie Olmsted 12:29
But I think I think that speaks to the just the environment right now. And I think I think it's worth with a giant asterisk saying the environment actually pretty good in a lot of places around the state. We have a higher amount of union support, a higher amount of support for unions, than I think many of us have seen in our lifetimes. So it is a good time to be in a union. But -

Stephanie Hall 12:55
But you don't have to be in the union anymore.

Jillian Majzan 12:57

Katie Olmsted 12:57
Right. So let's talk about -

Stephanie Hall 13:00
Yeah, we get we got another email today. I got another email today. Have you heard? You know

Jillian Majzan 13:05
Yes. And some districts are not just getting mail in the mail. They're getting emails. (Overlapping) Yes. I know. Not everyone is wasn't email.

Katie Olmsted 13:16
Yeah. But okay. So let's call this one out. I mean, we're, we're talking around what's happening here. We have dark money funded private interests, who are trying to trick people into dropping their union membership, so that they have all the power, and they can continue lining their pockets at the expense of the workers who make their their lives run. Same thing with public education, when they take away our power, that's just more power for them. And they know it and they're trying to trick people.

Jillian Majzan 13:52
And it's also scare tactic propaganda, the things that they're sending in the mail. Yeah.

Katie Olmsted 13:58
So do you think because, Jillian, you have this union background, like, as your mom mentioned, from the time you were in utero, you were like, going to be a teacher going to be a union member, Do you think you're better insulated from perhaps falling for their tricks?

Jillian Majzan 14:16
Well and that's what I that. It's funny, because we were just talking about that I was saying, I feel like I have a little bit of, I don't know, a little more understanding than people who are younger that didn't have parents that were involved in a union. Obviously, there are plenty of other unions. But as far as educators and ESPs, not everyone was able to have that experience. So when people are out picketing, you know, there was a lot of support, for example, for Columbus, and I was super excited to see that because sometimes there isn't community support, but it seemed like for the most part everyone rallied around and that was awesome because Not everyone has that experience of knowing why educators are picketing, what they're picketing for, like, what what is it actually accomplishing? What is their goal? And I just wish more people kind of knew what unions actually do when they're getting that mail. Because I don't know. That's why those one on one relationships are so important. So

Stephanie Hall 15:25
That's why the Ohio New Educator program is so important, because I can't even imagine how many people were just saying, Oh, don't join me up. I'll keep my money if you guys weren't going out there and, you know, making contact with all these new people.

Jillian Majzan 15:38

Katie Olmsted 15:39
Stephanie, do you wish there was an Ohio New Educator program around when you are entering the profession?

Stephanie Hall 15:44
Oh, yeah. I mean, we, I didn't even know what anything about the union. When I went in my mom and dad, neither one of them were in in union and I knew nothing. I just knew you either - You paid your money no matter what. You either were fair share, or you were a member. So it was just a given that I was going to be a member. But yeah, it would have been nice. And I do think that they've, a lot of people have stayed in the union or joined the union because of these guys.

Katie Olmsted 16:09
So what is the bottom line? Jillian, if you could give the elevator pitch for the people listening to this, what would you tell people is the value of your union membership? I mean, we've veered very far off of a legacy of education. But I think these are such important conversations to have with two educators who happen to be from the same family. So what is the value of union membership?

Jillian Majzan 16:32
I think for me, it's connection. I think it boils down to connection. And I think there's multiple facets of that. But even just having a voice or someone to look back at your contract with you and say, Okay, what does this really mean or a connection, This management thing is not working for me, how can I fix this? Or a connection to I'm really struggling. Like, I'm just really struggling, and I'm overwhelmed. That connection piece. And, of course, there's all the PDs and member benefits and all of that. But I think it all boils down to just that one word, that you have this big network, this -

Stephanie Hall 17:16
big community. Big community outside of your school, it's it's all the schools, you know.

Katie Olmsted 17:22
But of course, there was a time not that long ago, where it seemed like that was not going to happen anymore. The Senate Bill 5 fight in 2011. Both of you have memories of that.

Stephanie Hall 17:35
Yes, she was a sophomore in high school.

Jillian Majzan 17:37

Stephanie Hall 17:38
And she's still, she remembers that. It was very stressful.

Jillian Majzan 17:42
It was traumatizing to watch. I mean, as someone who knew that they wanted to be a teacher. And I had, you know, both of my parents upset and concerned. And I just remember you being so upset every night and it seemed like on the news or something every single day, and just the attacks. And it was constant. I mean, I can't even describe it, how upset you were.

Stephanie Hall 18:10
Yeah, it was like it's almost up there with being on strike. Yeah, like just scary. What they could take away if they get enough support.

Katie Olmsted 18:21
But for you, Stephanie, that was a call to action. You were you were making calls. You were trying to tell people what was going on, right?

Stephanie Hall 18:28
Yeah, yeah, we were phone banking here.

Jillian Majzan 18:31
And the one thing that was like very eye opening for me as a kid, is that it wasn't just the teachers unions, it was everybody and everybody came together. And everybody did something like they actually made an impact. And they stopped it.

Katie Olmsted 18:48
Did it give you pause about maybe entering the profession, knowing that this was the landscape you are maybe walking into?

Jillian Majzan 18:54
You know, there were a few moments where I flip flopped for like a hot second. There was like a moment in college where I was like, I'm just gonna be an English major. And it was like, a hot semester. And that and that was it. And then I just flip flop back. So really, I mean, we've all had our moments. I think that they're blips on the radar.

Katie Olmsted 19:16
And it seems like it's just in your blood with your mom in the profession, your dad in the profession.

Jillian Majzan 19:22
Yeah. You are what you see, I guess.

Katie Olmsted 19:26
I know we're running short on time. But that brings up a really good point about we need more educators. In Ohio, we have a recruitment problem, we have a retention problem. We have a problem where we are having difficulty attracting and retaining educators of color. Do you have any thoughts on how we can get more people to not necessarily follow family footsteps, but maybe follow your footsteps into the repression?

Jillian Majzan 19:53
It just needs to be a sustainable career. I mean, so - and I was talking to my friend actually earlier today because she just had a baby, and she's like I don't, I don't think I'm going to come back. And I'm like, I respect that decision, because sometimes it's just too much. And for some people, it's just not sustainable. And it's at different points in their lives and might not be sustainable. I think teaching used to be like a lifelong career for a lot of people. And I think the landscape the way it is now, I really don't know if a lot of people see it that way. And so I think, if if we're talking about teacher retention, we really need to start thinking about how do we make it a sustainable career for teachers in the first place. Because -

Stephanie Hall 20:45
Not make it so hard. It's so hard on these new teachers with the RESA, and the constant evaluating of them, just walkthroughs by everybody in their mother, you know, like, not only do the administrators will do walkthroughs, but others peers do walkthroughs on you.

Jillian Majzan 21:03
It's just a lot. I think our expectations of what teachers are expected to do, or it's just unsustainable.

Stephanie Hall 21:11
People have no idea what teachers do if they're not a teacher,

Jillian Majzan 21:13
I would love to say that, I hope I won't burn out. And I don't plan to. But if if the pressures of this profession are continuing with kind of where they're at, I don't know if it's really going to be a sustainable career for any of us. And so I think that we have to start there first.

Katie Olmsted 21:35
It's a really sombering thought, but I think such an important conversation to have. It does strike me that the dinner conversations in your house must be something because both of you are so passionate -

Jillian Majzan 21:51
They're pretty funny! We have lots of stories.

Stephanie Hall 21:53
Oh, yeah.

Katie Olmsted 21:55
Well, I appreciate you taking the time and having this conversation with me. Thank you so much.

Stephanie Hall 22:00
Thank you.

Jillian Majzan 22:03
Thank you.

Katie Olmsted 22:03
If you're carrying on the family business by being an educator and you'd like to share your story, or you have another idea for something you'd like to hear here on this podcast, send me an email at Next week, we're taking a step back in history to learn more about some of the exalted educators after whom OEA Awards and Scholarships are named. Our teachers for this lesson? Some of the very educators who worked right alongside them. Until next time, stay well.

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