IB English (Literature) and IB Theory of Knowledge (12th Grade) Teacher at Stonewall Jackson High School, Manassas, VA
Nominated by Anya G.
“Ask any of her students, her colleagues, or her IB Director and they will all agree that Jacquelyn is an incredible teacher. She is beyond humble and goes above and beyond at every turn to ensure her students are better writers and thinkers.
Her dedication to her work does not go unnoticed ― I never see her not grading. Over the years, her students have written her novels to thank her, and tell her how much she has influenced them and their aspirations. It’s amazing to see how many students she has inspired!”
“Set high expectations for yourself and for your students. They will rise to meet them, partly because they will understand that you are doing the same.”
Q&A with Jacquelyn A. Fox-Good
What originally got you interested in teaching?
My interest in teaching arose during my very early experiences in school, as a student. I clearly recall not just being in school, but also “playing school” with my best friend, Bonnie. She most often played the student, and I, the teacher. I believed early on that I would be a teacher, even that I already was one, and I began to focus on my own teachers through this lens. I had many teachers who were wonderful, and others who were less so. So, I began to keep a journal of things I planned to do (and not to do) as a teacher.
What advice would you give to aspiring teachers?
First, before you start teaching and once you are teaching, work hard to develop in-depth and specialized knowledge of your subject matter. Take courses in, study, travel to understand, become an expert in the discipline you are teaching. I emphasize this because education courses, although sometimes useful, almost never provide what you need most in the classroom, which is deep knowledge of what you are teaching.
Second, set high expectations for yourself and for your students. They will rise to meet them, partly because they will understand that you are doing the same. Establish rules; follow them, and expect your students to follow them, but be prepared to adjust when you need to. In the words of a wise English playwright, “the quality of mercy is not strained.” Like human beings, the law sometimes needs to yield. This develops naturally from the premise that as teachers we are working with our students, not against them.
What is the single best piece of advice you can give parents of high school seniors?
I recommend patience. One needs to expect these students to assume responsibility for their own actions, work and behavior. One must be ready to step in and lend support if students ask for it, or when they need it (even when they do not ask). As a parent and as a teacher who has worked with many young adults (in high school and university), I know how difficult it is to strike a balance between letting go and holding on. But finding this balance serves students now and in the long run; it also facilitates healthy relationships with one’s children as they become adults.
What are three things you use in your classroom every day and could never live without?
Books—the paper, material kind. Desks that move—so that we can sit in a circle for discussion, or in whatever configuration is suitable to our purposes for the day. Lots of art prints, colorful pictures, quotations, etc. on the walls—for visual interest. Oh, and battery-powered holiday lights!