Jessica Jolie: This is what I’m supposed to do

Published 10:08 am Friday, October 1, 2021

Jessica Jolie, a fifth-grade teacher at A.A. Nelson Elementary School, loves her job. She has known her whole life that working with children is what she was meant to do.

“I’ve always loved children and even worked at a daycare in high school. I read ‘The Purpose Driven Life’ and knew this is my purpose. This is what I’m supposed to do.”

She studied elementary education at McNeese State University and has spent the last 12 years in the classroom teaching third, fourth or fifth graders. “I’ve loved all three grades and really can’t pick a favorite,” she said.

Jolie said she has lots of positive memories from her
decade-plus experience, even dating back to her first day teaching and first year on the job.

“I was probably more nervous than my students. But really, I remember being really excited, like, ‘This is your classroom. This is it.’ I remember it being fun too and thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, I love this.’ I loved that whole year, and I can still remember it so vividly. I can even remember their little faces.”

Remembering the hearts and feelings of the children and cultivating a relationship with them is her favorite part of the job, she said. “I think we tend to focus on the curriculum all the time, but you need to build those relationships first.”

Being in tune with her students can be a double-edged sword at times, however, she said, especially with the last 18 months of difficulties. “You encounter a lot of situations and sad stories that you wish you could change for them. I take a lot of those things to heart. You can’t make the situation better, but you can just love them—especially since the hurricane with so many kids not in their homes and COVID, too, has made life so much harder.”

While she currently teaches math and science, math is her true passion, she said. “I never want to give that up…I really struggled with math in school, so I want to make it fun and help the students who are struggling.”

Seeing students succeed in something they thought was previously impossible is another rewarding part of the job, she said. “Like today, we were dividing decimals and I heard one girl across the room say, ‘Oh my gosh. I get it now.’ Those little moments are the best!”

When Jolie is not teaching, she enjoys spending time with husband and children, especially outdoors fishing.