Teacher Features

Reshini Premaratne, News Editor

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With college applications and admissions on the horizon for every senior student, Ms. Jessica Bradley can understand the seemingly ubiquitous sense of excitement among the class of 2016. After all, her college experience really fostered her love and passion for teaching.

Whether it was through her summer job of teaching at a local daycare center’s kindergarten and after-school program or driving the van to pick students up from different schools, Ms. Bradley realized her love of reading, learning, and sharing discoveries with her students. She describes herself as an “eternal student.”

After graduating college, her passport was the first thing she obtained. Her opportunity to travel the world has motivated her to improve her students’ perspective on the world as well, through her World Literature class.

One of the biggest reasons she said she became a teacher was because she wanted her students to have that light-bulb moment, in which the connection between beautifully written words and the exotic places in the literature can be made. In this way, Ms. Bradley said, Maggie Walker “is a wonderful fit for me to continue teaching at an advanced level, in an environment with a global perspective.”

While Ms. Bradley enjoyed teaching at colleges like John Tyler Community College and Virginia State University, she decided to take that step from higher education to high school because she noticed the increasing disparity in students as they entered college. Ms. Bradley said, “I wanted to apply my research in high school to prepare students for what lies ahead.”

Despite her extensive background teaching at the collegiate and high school level, there were certainly aspects of starting to teach at Maggie Walker for which Ms. Bradley wasn’t prepared. Even after having taught for over a quarter of a century now, Ms. Bradley is not immune to the feelings of anxiety and stress as the new teacher at a close-knit school. Despite her being new at Maggie Walker this year, Ms. Bradley admits that she “felt at home immediately.”

Even though she confessed to going into the wrong classroom often on Fridays, Ms. Bradley loves our school building and having the adventure of finding her way around. Ms. Bradley has found Maggie Walker to be a unique and unparalleled learning environment for many reasons.

One of the main reasons is the classrooms. Ms. Bradley said she loves the “seminar atmosphere” of the U-shaped tables and the lack of rows of desks in each of the classes. Ms. Bradley also expressed an appreciation for the “clearly articulated honor system,” a feature of Maggie Walker that not many high schools have.

As a new addition to the English Department, it is not a surprise that one of Ms. Bradley’s favorite smells is the “new book” scent. Nevertheless, she also enjoys the smell of freshly brewed coffee and sandalwood at the barn where she rides horses in her free time. On the other hand, Ms. Maxey, an addition to the Math Department this year, loves the smell of Sugar Shack during a Maggie Walker fire drill – not unlike many Maggie Walker students! Ms. Maxey, also enjoys the smell of a Peppermint Mocha Latte, a popular scent for this time of the year.

This is Ms. Maxey’s 21st year of teaching and she has found it to be “one of the most creative professions that one can choose.” To her, the excitement of teaching lies in the organization of a curriculum through which students can understand the fundamentals of mathematics, especially at a school like Maggie Walker, where a wide range of math courses is offered. Ms. Maxey said, “I decided to come to Maggie Walker to experience teaching students who are for the most part motivated to participate in learning through an inductive approach.”

While one of Maggie Walker’s most exceptional aspects is its student population and the motivation therein, another unique aspect of Maggie Walker in Ms. Maxey’s eyes is the allowances afforded to those students. For examples, students can leave class by simply signing out in a book, enjoy off-campus lunch during senior year, and even eat food during class. She said, “Student freedom [at Maggie Walker] is a step above the traditional school.” She elaborates that this environment of exceptional freedom is possible because students are, without instruction, mostly focused on academics anyways.

New to Maggie Walker this year, Ms. Maxey definitely experienced some challenges and hurdles during her first weeks here. Similar to Ms. Bradley, Ms. Maxey was also “a bit turned around in the building.” As for most every new student, teacher, or administrator, it is difficult to find the proper way around the building from the staircases to the more obscure hallways. Ms. Maxey was no exception to this phenomenon.

However, for Ms. Maxey, “The students make the school.” While the first few weeks may have been difficult with getting accustomed to the building, she emphasizes, [I enjoyed my classes from the beginning and even more now.”

With just a week before winter break, we should all take a moment to thank our teachers, new to the school or not, because they often share the same challenges and passions for Maggie Walker and learning as we do. We are a family after all.

 

 

 

 

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