Contact Education


College of Education
phone: (208) 885-6772
toll free: (888) 884-3246
fax: (208) 885-6761
875 Perimeter Drive MS3080
Moscow, ID 83844-3080 

Coeur d'Alene
Phone (208) 667-2588
Toll free (888) 208-2268
Fax (208) 664-1272
1031 N. Academic Way, Suite 242
Coeur d'Alene, ID 83814

Phone (208) 334-2999
Toll free (866) 264-7384
Fax (208) 364-4035
322 E. Front Street
Boise, ID 83702

A Bend in the Road

A Bend in the Road: How one student met life’s challenges head on

Story by Cheryl Dudley

Terry Jess of Coeur d’Alene graduated in May with his bachelor’s degree in secondary education. While earning an undergraduate degree might seem like an ordinary accomplishment to some, for Terry, his wife Holly, and sons Taylor and Matthew, it’s an important milestone in a journey that began too soon. It also speaks of the fortitude of a man with a passion.

Like many high school students, Terry didn’t care much about education. “I wasn’t the best student in high school,” he says. “I didn’t care about grades, even though I was capable of 4.0 work. I was more interested in girls and football.”

Then when he was just a sophomore in high school, Terry’s life took an unexpected turn when he found out that he and his girlfriend were expecting a child. He and Holly, who was 16 at the time, made the best of the situation, and during their junior year, they welcomed their newborn son, Taylor. The couple was married and graduated from Lake City High School in 2003. 

After graduation, Terry decided he wanted to go to college and become a law enforcement officer. He started taking classes at North Idaho College, but quickly discovered he wasn’t passionate about the field. Terry quit NIC and started looking for something else. He decided to consider the ministry, so moved he family to South Carolina to attended a private, conservative college.

“It broadened my perspective, but also made me realize that it wasn’t for me,” he said. So, after two years in South Carolina, the Jess family moved back to Coeur d’Alene.

Still hoping to get a college education, Terry continued looking for the right fit. When he discovered the University of Idaho’s education program, he thought that teaching might be what he was looking for. Terry signed up for classes, and the family—now with a second son named Matthew—moved to Moscow. It didn’t take Terry long to discover that, not only was teaching his true passion, the College of Education professors were phenomenal. “I quickly realized that this is what I’m supposed to be doing,” Terry said.

Terry completed his student teaching internship at Post Falls high school this year. Making ends meet was a struggle, but thanks to scholarship support from the University of Idaho, he was able to teach and also take a few last classes to finish his degree.

“Without scholarships, there’s no way I could have finished, especially this past year as I student taught,” said Terry. “We basically lived off our scholarships during the year.”

Terry received several University of Idaho scholarships during his student career, including the College of Education Ada Gregory Dawald scholarship, the University’s Education Fee Waiver and the Robert & Maxine McAuley Scholarship.

Because of the University’s generous support, students like Terry, who was chosen by the College of Education to carry the flag during commencement, can become successful. 

How does his family feel about life-after-education?

“I was excited for my dad to graduate because I get to spend more time with him,” said Taylor, who is now 9 years old. “Me too,” added 6-year-old Matthew. 

 “I knew he would do well in school,” said Holly. “He is the smartest person I’ve ever met, and I am more proud of him than words can express. And, like the rest of the family, I am excited that we can now spend more time together.”