At Vine, we are immensely proud of our teachers. Their passion, skill, and genuine care for each of our students shines through every day. This year, we'll be taking a closer look at each of them, beginning with our Literature and Writing teacher, Ms. Jessica.
We asked Ms. Jessica to answer a few questions to help us get to know her a bit better...
Ms. Jessica, will you give us one example of how learning is customized in your classroom?
Students are allowed to read books that interest them at a pace that works for them. I'm able to help students find books that they want to read at a level that isn't frustrating. If you think you're a non-reader, you just haven't found the right book yet!
What are you reading right now?
A bunch of things! For teaching: Animal Farm by George Orwell, for professional development: Literary Theory by Clare Connors, for fun: Hamlet, Prince of Denmark: A Novel by David Hewson and A.J. Hartley, for listening in the Car: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling (again!), and for my daughters: The Collected Stories of Winnie-The-Pooh by A.A. Milne.
If you had 24 hours outside of school to do whatever you wanted, what would we find you doing?
Hiking in the woods or adventuring through a new city with my husband and daughters, lunch (picnic style!) at a park so my kids can play and my husband and I can actually have a conversation, reading in a coffee shop during the girls' nap time, dinner and a movie, OR more reading!
What superpower would you like to have if you could choose? No explanation needed...
What's your favorite quote?
"Greatness is not in where we stand but in what direction we are moving. We must sail sometimes with the wind and sometimes against it - but sail we must and not drift, nor lie at anchor."
If you could sit down and have lunch with any one historical character, which one would you pick and why?
This is a really difficult question! The obvious answer would be William Shakespeare, Jane Austin, or J.R.R. Tolkien because they are my favorite authors, but I've always found the common, everyday person more interesting. Instead of having lunch with a historical celebrity, I think it would be more interesting to meet with an everyday person who lived through an important moment in history to see the world from their perspective. Does my great-grandmother count as a historical character?
What do you think makes Vine unique for your students?
The individualization due to small class sizes is most definitely the best part about Vine Academy. Because I only have 6-8 students in a class at a time, I am able to not only allow them to read different books, but meet with each of them about those stories! The small class size also means that I know each of my students very well. I share in their accomplishments and their disappointments. This familiarity holds them accountable in their education and allows them opportunities to take risks in a safe environment.
What inspired you to become a teacher?
I'm not sure there was any one moment that inspired me to become a teacher. In second grade, I wrote in a journal, saying "When I grow up, I want to be a writer, a teacher, or Stevie Nicks." (We can probably ignore my desire to wear a flowing skirt and sing in a band. Although a teacher is, in some sense, an entertainer as well!)
I grew up in a small town and my grandfather was a teacher in that same town. I can remember shopping at the grocery store and upon hearing my name, people asking if I was related to him. Then, upon confirmation, they would explain how he inspired them to work harder than they ever had ever before or share about the moment he gave them advice to help them get back on track after a mistake. I quickly learned that if you wanted to make a difference in someone's life and wanted to leave this earth a little better than how you found it, being a teacher was a good start.
Thank you so much for sharing with us, Ms. Jessica!
Jessica graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in English, and later completed a certification program in Language Arts Education. She has worked in many facets of education: as a classroom assistant, a tutor for English language learners, a university registrar, and a testing specialist. It is almost impossible to find Jessica without a book in her hand, and she’s very passionate about helping children develop a life-long enthusiasm for reading. Jessica encourages the student’s in her classroom to work hard, and share their ideas because she believes that everyone has something special to contribute to the world. Jessica’s greatest passion lies with helping students achieve their full potential as writers, readers, and thinkers.