Real People, Real Stories
Josue & Anya Covarrubias

Josue & Anya Covarrubias

A friendship forged over state science standards played a role in a couple of educators moving to Grand Island.

Josue Covarrubias grew up in South Sioux City, earned his Bachelor of Science in secondary education at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, then returned home to teach world languages at South Sioux City High School.

That’s where he met his future wife, Anya, who grew up in Cope, CO, and “traveled 20 minutes to the K-12 school of 104 kids in the middle of a pasture.”

After earning her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Eastern New Mexico University, she was working in a neurobiology lab when her father suffered a brain injury. Anya returned home to help her mother and took a job teaching science and coaching volleyball at the local school.

“I fell in love with teaching, writing curriculum and coaching,” she said. She moved to South Sioux City to teach biology and chemistry and be head volleyball coach.

While teaching at South Sioux City, Josue earned his Master of Education from Wayne State College. He served as an assistant principal at South Sioux City High for a year and at the middle school for two years.

Anya began working on the Nebraska Science Standards with other educators from around the state, including Katie Ramsey, who was then science curriculum coordinator at Grand Island Public Schools.

“She always told me about the incredible things happening at GIPS,” Anya said, “like the Academies at GISH, the strong PLC focus and the possibility of being a science coach that GIPS had in the past.”

Anya had also traveled to Grand Island to watch state volleyball, and Josue had an old friend living in Grand Island.

When the position of principal at Barr Middle School became available, Josue applied, and they moved to Grand Island in 2018. Anya works for GIPS as science, HPE and FCS coordinator.

“I come from a very diverse environment in South Sioux City,” Josue said. The couple wanted their four children, now ages 5-11, to grow up in a diverse community.

They both liked the size of Grand Island, as well.

“It was bigger than South Sioux City but still had a small-town feel,” Anya said.

“We’ve got some things going on, but it’s not bustling,” Josue said.

Living in Grand Island puts them closer to eastern Colorado, where Anya’s family lives, while they’re still not far away from South Sioux City, where Josue grew up.

Naturally enough, they both approve of Grand Island’s schools.

“My kids have great teachers and can walk to school with their neighborhood friends,” Anya said. “We have wonderful neighbors that we know by name, and now one of them is my best friend.”

Some of their favorite family activities are located downtown. Their family enjoys movies at the Grand Theatre and the Hear Grand Island concerts in the summer.

“The kids dance with friends, eat popcorn and get ice cream while the parents get to hang out with other adults,” Anya said. “Just in the time we have been in Grand Island, downtown has gotten better and better.”

They also like to get outdoors, enjoy the city parks, Island Oasis and camping spots around the area.

“Who would have known there were white sandy beaches in the middle of Nebraska?” Anya said.

Asked what he would tell others thinking of moving to Grand Island, Josue said, “This is a great community to raise a family.”

It has “affordable homes in great neighborhoods,” he said. “The people are just good people here.”

“We try to convince friends and family to move here all the time,” Anya said. “If we keep working on people, eventually, we will get someone here, just like Katie got us here!”