Today we’re thrilled to introduce you to a fifth grade teacher who has legions of student fans. Known for introducing her students to fantastic music and for her contagious passion for learning, this gal is also a gem in the eyes of parents. Today, we’re going one-on-one with Ms. Jessica Blake!
Are you from Nashville? And if not, where are you from, and how did you arrive here?
I am not originally from Nashville. I moved here in 2009 from West Virginia. When I graduated from Marshall University, teaching jobs were kind of tricky to come by. I applied for teaching positions far and wide—many of them in places I’d never even visited before (Nashville included!). West End Middle was the first school to offer me a position, so I took it! I had basically won the teaching lottery, but to be honest I had no idea at the time how lucky I was. I was just happy to have a job.
How long have you been teaching (where, what grades, etc.)?
This is my seventh year teaching. This is my fifth year teaching at West End, in addition to two years I spent teaching fourth grade at Eakin Elementary.
What is your most favorite part of your job?
Spending every day witnessing the natural creativity and curiosity of 10- and 11-year-olds. Teaching science to fifth graders is real, genuine fun because they are JUST SO INTO IT. At the beginning of every year when we study the scientific method I have them make up their own science experiment to do in the classroom. I tell them I don’t care what it is as long as, 1) it follows the scientific method, 2) the materials can be found in our classroom, and 3) it is only mildly dangerous. The things their weirdo brains think up is legitimately amazing. Kids are truly the best scientists!
If you weren’t a teacher, what would you most like to do?
I’ve never seriously considered doing anything else, so I have no idea! Maybe something in geology.
When you’re not working, how do you enjoy spending your free time?
Hanging out with my niece and nephew! My sister and her family moved here from West Virginia last summer, so I’ve really been enjoying having them close by.
What’s your most favorite guilty pleasure song?
Probably any weird, mediocre dance remix from those ’90s “Jock Jams” albums.
What do you most hope your students take away from their time in your classroom?
A desire and appreciation for challenging their minds and learning new things. An appreciation and respect for the learning process itself. A healthy relationship with math. A passion and dedication to science. I also want my students to know that there is a lot more to school than just getting some test score at the end of the year. School can be a fun and wonderful experience; just enjoy it and stop focusing on and stressing about the year-end assessment so much.
And now you see why we love Ms. Blake so much! Thanks for sharing a little about yourself today. To meet Ms. Blake, you can swing by her classroom on the first floor in the fifth grade end. Or you can email her at Jessica.Blake@mnps.org.