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In a Million Words or Less

At the beginning of each school year, I ask parents to complete a homework assignment.  During the first week of school, I also ask my students to complete the same assignment.  It is only fair that I complete the assignments as well.  In a Million Words or Less, here is everything you need to know about me.


In kindergarten I was asked, "What do you want to be when you grow up?"  At the young age of 5, I spat out "A carpenter... or a teacher." My dad was a carpenter and I wanted to follow in his footsteps, but becoming a teacher would be my back up plan.  I struggled in school.  I hated to read and math had been, and will always be, my enemy.  I tried my best, and I was fortunate enough to have some great teachers.  They encouraged me to never give up.  They told me that if I gave everything I had every day, I would succeed.


As much as I struggled with reading, I realized I wanted to teach English Language Arts. During my senior year in high school, my teacher gave an assignment to teach the class a short story from our textbook.  I was freaking out because I thought I didn't understand enough of the topic.  I remember pacing in my room the night before.  The next day my name was called and I slowly scooted out of my chair and walked to the front of the classroom.  My heart was pounding as I gazed across the room.  I opened my mouth and the words started to flow out.  I didn't realize what was happening, but all of a sudden hands started flying in the air.  My classmates understood my lesson and were willing to answer the questions.  From that moment on I was hooked.  


My family didn't talk a lot about college.  In fact, I never thought I was smart enough to go.  If it weren't for my friends encouraging me, I don't think I would have accomplished my goal.  My friends' belief in me inspired me to apply to college.  The day after I graduated high school in southern California, I packed up all of my belongings and moved to Ceres with my mom.  


I took the little savings I had and applied to Modesto Junior College.  I had a job, but soon realized that I would need another if I wanted to continue my education.  While working my second job, I met the man of my dreams.  He supported my goal and made my education a priority.  My home life wasn't the greatest, so we decided to move in together. The strain of school, work, and family started to take a toll.  Needless to say, it wasn't easy.  I completed one year of junior college, but I had to drop out.  


It took six years, a marriage to the man of my dreams, and two beautiful children, before I was able to attend college again.  I wanted to make sure my children and husband weren't losing me, so I stayed up for many hours after everyone went to bed.  I played with my children during the day because I wanted them to have the best childhood memories.  My nights were spent pouring over literature books, and writing essays. Often times I didn't go to sleep until after 2am, but I was sure to be awake by 6am to make breakfast for my little monsters.  


After two years, I graduated Modesto Junior College with my Associate Degree in English.  I transferred to California State University, Stanislaus.  I spent three years completing my undergraduate work, including everything I needed to be successful in the credential program.  Upon graduating with my Bachelor's Degree in English, I applied and was accepted into the credential program.  


In 2009 I landed my first teaching job at Edison High School in Stockton.  I taught English 9, English 10, English 11, AVID, and during my last two years there I was the Activities Director and taught Leadership.  I am grateful for the experience, the amazing teachers, and wonderful students. They will always be in my heart.


This is my second year at Pitman High School and I couldn't be happier.  I am close to home, so I am able to spend more time with my family. The teachers and staff are a pleasure to work with.  I know that if I need anything, help will come my way.  I teach English 9 all day, every day and I love every moment of it.  The students are helpful, kind, and hard working.  My classroom gets a little noisy at times, but we are focused and learning.  I try to make the classroom as safe as possible because I know what it is like to be afraid to speak up in a room full of my peers.  


I hope my students enjoy my teaching as much as I enjoy learning from them.  

Jessica Insell

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