- Grant Wood Elementary School
“Our favorite destination is the next one.”
“Our favorite destination is the next one.”
Paraeducator by day, traveler, promoter, and cook by night. From gallivanting across the United States to cooking up something amazing in the kitchen, Jay Goodvin has been on countless adventures.
Jay is a special education paraeducator at Weber Elementary and has been with our District since 2014. Besides education, he is passionate about traveling and loves sharing his adventures on his website, The Iowa Gallivant.
During the summer of 2014, Jay started an online family scrapbook to document a few summer trips he and his family were taking. As they traveled, he wrote posts and shared photos of their travels.
His first breakthrough story was about a trip he took to Sabula, Iowa; Iowa’s only island town.
“I checked my stats one day and we were getting thousands of views with no aid from social media. People were really interested in small towns, especially in Iowa,” Jay said.
This led to the creation of the Iowa Gallivant. What began as a digital family scrapbook quickly turned into something more.
As Jay travels, he regularly posts photos of himself and his trips and is able to showcase small towns and good eats. Although the website is called The Iowa Gallivant and is primarily Midwest-based, Jay features locales from all over the United States.
The Iowa Gallivant also offers Jay an opportunity to spend more time with his family.
“It’s been an amazing way to remember these years together and see them grow up in the pictures. These days the kids help me with filming videos and my wife has done many of the edits in our blog posts.”
On the road, he loves telling people about his work as a paraeducator. In the classroom, he’s able to incorporate his experiences with The Iowa Gallivant by talking about the places he’s been with students and often hosting trivia about different locations he has visited.
Growing up in Iowa City, Jay moved around a lot hunting for seasonal jobs, finding employment in the hospitality industry, including many restaurants and resorts. The seasonal work gave Jay several months off a year to explore the world.
“I’ve always had a travel bug, almost like a nomadic instinct,” said Jay.
Eventually, wanting to transition out of the restaurant industry, he began looking for other opportunities that would still provide time off to travel. Deciding that working in education was what he was looking for, Jay first started as a food service worker at Northwest Junior High before transitioning to the same role at South East Junior High.
Working in education gave Jay breaks during the year when he could continue traveling. After spending three years at South East running the kitchen, he wanted to transition out of the food service industry.
Seeing an opening for a paraeducator, he transitioned to that role at South East, working there for three years before moving to his current role at Weber Elementary. Being the youngest in his family, he had always wished for a younger sibling, and working as a paraeducator gave him the opportunity to experience that bond.
“I liked seeing the interaction the paras had with their kids,” said Jay. “It is kind of like a wish come true to get to work with them, and be buddy-buddy with them.”
Jay has also valued becoming a mentor to the students.
“The help they’re receiving is very important, but learning about how to respect and interact with others is just as important. I want everyone I know in my life that they can always ask me about anything. I won’t always have the perfect answers but I can listen and always provide genuine encouragement. Being trusted by folks is the best compliment you can receive.”
Although he no longer works as a food service worker, Jay can still pursue his love for cooking.
“Cooking is therapeutic to me whether I do it at home for my family or others.”
On Fridays, Jay often brings food into school for students and his co-workers to sample. Some of his favorites include mac and cheese, a baked potato bar, biscuits and gravy, spaghetti, and chicken Tikka Masala.
From sharing the curiosities of small towns to cooking in the kitchen or mentoring the students at Weber Elementary, Jay is always working to put a smile on someone’s face.
“Don’t make someone smile when they don’t feel like it. Make’em laugh!”