An Interview with JAM Paper's 2019 Teacher Scholarship Award Winner
Congratulations to Jacob Growe, JAM Paper's 2019 Teacher Scholarship Award winner, and good luck with all of your future endeavors!
In your essay, you’ve chronicled your struggle with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) from an early age, and how it shaped your path into becoming an elementary school teacher. What has it been like combating your ADD throughout your education career? Or have you learned to manage it so it doesn’t interfere too much in your work?
During my last year of high school, I stopped taking my Ritalin; I never told my parents, so hopefully they never find out! I found that while the medication helped me concentrate, it also stifled my personality and it made it hard for me to be me. In that year I taught myself how to manage my ADD and use it to my advantage, which would turn out to be a great asset in college. It made has given me organization and time management skills that would prove to be invaluable in planning lessons and staying on top of my other teaching responsibilities.
Where has your career in education taken you so far? You’ve mentioned your eye-opening experience in a third grade classroom that further cemented your decision to pursue an elementary education degree.
My career in education has literally taken me around the world. Though I began teaching in Arizona, I have taught in Mexico, South Africa, Germany and I am now currently in Brazil. Though I have taught middle school before, I quickly realized that it wasn’t for me. When I began taking courses in education, I always knew that I wanted to be an elementary school teacher and I frequently asked myself ,“Which teacher would I most want to be like?” My third grade teacher always always stuck out in my mind as the one who inspired me. She was always caring and took the time to know each of her students. She had a great sense of humor and always made lessons engaging.
You talked about identifying with those students who sit “in the back trying to go unnoticed.” How have you been able to get their attention and make learning fun for them? Are there any useful tips you can share with your fellow educators or parents?
One of my strengths as a teacher has always been building rapport with my students and it's something that I try to do at the beginning of each year. For those students who are like me, I try and spot them early and make it a point to get to know their interests. I find that when you can build positive relationships with kids, they become more eager to engage. Whether you are a teacher or parent, the key is to build positive relationships that foster open-mindedness and cultivate perseverance.
What has teaching others taught you about yourself?
Being an educator has taught me many things of great deal about empathy, patience, and humility. My experience has primarily been in other countries with students, colleagues, and parents who often do not speak English as their first language. This has also taught me to think creatively about how to solve problems.
Your college counselor was the one who steered you into considering a major in education, and you were ultimately grateful for this life-changing advice. Down the road, would you ever consider transitioning into a career in school counseling? Or are you content influencing students’ lives as a full-time classroom teacher?
Though I am embarrassed that I cannot remember the name of my college counselor who suggested education as a career path, the thought of entering into school counseling has crossed my mind. While I do love being in the classroom with students, I have set my sights on being an influence for my fellow colleagues instead. I am currently enrolled in the Educational Leadership program with principal certification through Northern Arizona University. I have been studying while abroad here in Brazil and will graduate in June 2020. As a leader, I hope to work side-by-side with teachers to make decisions that are best for students.
And last but not least, what is your favorite JAM Paper school/office supply, and why?
My favorite JAM Paper office supply are the Sharpie Fine Point Markers. Part of how I stay organized is making sure that things are properly labelled, which is why I love these markers. They write smoothly, rarely smudge, and come in a variety of colors. Who wouldn’t enjoy that?
Interview conducted by Diana Oliveira, Ecommerce Content Writer at JAM Paper & Envelope.