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Teacher Feature: Jessica Purdum
Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education (2005)
Current School Site:
Skyview Elementary School (Yukon Public Schools)
Number of Years Teaching:
Why did you decide to become an educator?
Like most educators, I know the passion for the job has always been present for me. There was no magical moment, no one personal influence. I am a teacher today simply because I was a student who loved learning, and I was nurtured in learning environments that fueled my passion. Deciding to become a teacher was more of a reflection of 18 years of inspirational teachers and schools with the right vision for student success. My own teachers modeled how imperative it is to build genuine relationships with your students and how special teaching can be when you make it your own and do what you know is best for students.
What brings joy to your work?
The kids! They aren’t just part of the job, they are our purpose, and you can’t help but love them. You love them for their joy and enthusiasm, or you love them for their trauma and pain, but you love every last one of them and they reinforce this career choice. The relationships I’ve built with students over 15 years in the classroom supersedes any stressors that come with the job. There are the eager learners, the quirky one-of-a-kinds, the quiet nurturers, the lovable tornadoes, the brilliant minds and the work horses who would do anything you asked of them. I see them all and remember our time together with a smile on my face and satisfaction in my soul. The icing on the cake is when you get to see the young adults they grow into, and you selfishly take a little bit of the credit for the wonderful people they’ve become. Not many people get such joy from their work, and I’m grateful to have a job that brings me such fulfillment.
What impact do teachers have on the lives of their students?
Teachers can have the ultimate impact, and I believe wholeheartedly they can change the trajectory of their students’ lives. Teachers fill many roles, but it’s the teacher who also becomes the role model, counselor, nurse, salesman, political advocate or surrogate parent who reaches and inspires students to alter their path and impact who they become. You typically have a student for only a few months, but in that time you may plant many seeds that affect them beyond your time together. You plant a seed when you show them genuine kindness so that deposit can later yield a more empathetic adult. You plant a seed of perseverance when you set high expectations and then you also allow them to fail. You show them the meaning of integrity when you admit a mistake or apologize to them, and you fill them with confidence so when the world demands a lot of them, they already have the tenacity to face it.