Teacher Spotlight, a column that appears periodically in the Schools section of the Town Crier, features local educators answering questions about their careers in teaching. This week we feature Jessica Nies, a fourth-grade teacher at Heritage Academy, 858 University Ave., Los Altos. For more information, visit www.heritageacademyk-6.org.
Q: How did you get into teaching?
A: I knew so few friends who had as good of an experience growing up as I did, having had such a wonderful and invested team of parents, teachers and mentors who made growing up that much easier. I wanted to be a part of that team for other kids. I wanted them to know the same support, freedom and potential I felt.
Q: How long have you been teaching at your current school?
A: This is my third year at Heritage Academy.
Q: What is your favorite part of teaching?
A: I love convincing kids they’re smarter than they think they are, more beautiful than the media tells them and far too funny to take themselves so seriously.
Q: What is your favorite subject to teach? To learn about?
A: I love teaching history, especially U.S. history. It’s exciting to see and teach the impact individuals and ideas have on our world. I love to learn languages.
Q: What do you like to do when you are not teaching?
A: When I’m not teaching, I love spending time outdoors hiking and camping. I also coach fitness classes in the early mornings. It has been a great way for me to stay in shape and get to know other adults in my community.
Q: Who was your favorite teacher and what made him/her your favorite?
A: My favorite teachers were my high school teachers, Mr. Dave Haut and Mrs. Jane Stenderup, at Nevada Union High School in Grass Valley. These two engaged me as a person, as an individual with personality and then asked me to do school work. I felt like they knew me and enjoyed me, and therefore I’d do anything for them in class – even read a book!
Q: What is your most memorable teaching moment?
A: It’s not any one student or moment that’s memorable to me, but the invitations to baseball games, piano recitals, plays and graduations, because they know I’m one of their greatest fans, and I’ll cheer embarrassingly loudly for them!
Q: What do you find most challenging about teaching?
A: The most challenging part of teaching would have to be recognizing that, as a teacher, you, too, still have a lot to learn. There’s no moment that comes along where you can say you’re done or there’s nothing more you can be taught.
Q: What is the most rewarding aspect of teaching?
A: It would have to be watching my students take risks, make mistakes and try again. I love to watch and encourage perseverance and positive self-esteem win out over their setbacks and bumps in the road.