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Teacher Feature: Jessica Jernegan
B.S. in Elementary Education (2009)
Current School Site:
Bixby North Intermediate (Bixby Public Schools)
Fifth grade, language arts and reading
Number of Years Teaching:
Why did you go into the teaching field? What do you love most about it?
I’ve wanted to be a teacher for as long as I can remember. I’ve had many teachers along the way who have fostered my love of learning and taught me about the kind of teacher I wanted to be. I feel incredibly lucky to make an impact on a new group of students each year. You may not always see immediate results of your efforts, but when you do, it’s an instant reminder of why you went into the teaching profession. Those moments also remind me why I stay.
Tell us about your experience as an education student at OSU?
Professors and advisers at OSU instilled in me the importance of giving my best each and every day. That idea has stuck with me throughout my career and reminds me that educators deserve respect. It also empowers me to set high expectations for my students. Oklahoma State taught me what a professional teacher does every day and what to expect of myself and my students. I was given the tools I needed to implement those expectations in an effective way that meets everyone’s needs.
What do you tell someone who is considering teaching as a profession?
It’s about making a difference, and you will make a difference! While this career may not be the most financially lucrative and it is certainly filled with challenges, you will make an impact that far surpasses your lifetime. It’s hard to be a teacher; do it anyway! Follow your heart, and when that first former student comes back to thank you for the impact you made on their life, you will be so glad you chose this path.
What’s your biggest takeaway after 10 years of teaching?
Fair isn’t always equal. I remember this being a topic of discussion often in education classes. I have kept this in the back of my mind since my first day in the classroom. It’s not about everyone getting the same thing. We can’t put kids, or teachers, in boxes. It’s about everyone getting what they need. The concept of individualization is something I believe OSU does a great job of instilling in education students. Not only did we learn the tools to individualize, but we also learned the “why” behind it.
You were named the Bixby Teacher of the Year for 2014-15. What was your reaction to that experience?
Being chosen by colleagues who have mentored, encouraged and supported me to be the teacher I am today was extremely humbling. I’m convinced I work alongside the best teachers in the state, many of whom are OSU graduates, and the fact that they chose me to represent them was one of the proudest moments of my life.
What do you think is most important to share with others about what you do?
It’s all about respect. Respect us as professionals. Respect our students by adequately funding their classrooms. Teachers are profoundly invested in the health of our public schools and the future of the students we serve.