FLUSHING — Flushing Middle School teacher Keri Jaggers has been named the Flushing Education Association’s (FEA) Teacher of the Month for January. Jaggers, who has been with Flushing Community Schools for 17 years, teaches seventh grade social studies at FMS. Prior to Flushing, she taught for six years in Grayling; four years in Sandusky, MI; and three years in Port Huron.
Below is an interview between the FEA and Jaggers.
FEA: Why did you become a teacher?
KJ: I became a teacher because, in general, I wanted to have a job that would give me an opportunity to hopefully make a difference in kids’ lives, and to specifically make a difference in helping students understand what they learn. I was a student who had to continually re-read and study hard to get a good grade. I didn’t always understand what I was learning. Though I received good grades throughout school, I didn’t always understand what I learned. My father was a teacher for 39 years in public education, and he always taught me creative ways to learn, helping me understand what was being taught. He influenced me a lot. I admire him, and so did his students. He impacted kids in ways unimaginable! I wanted to do the same. I was so serious about teaching at an early age—12 to be exact— that I held a “school” in my basement for my little sister and her friends, including parent teacher conferences with her friends’ parents!
FEA: What motivates you to put in the blood, sweat and tears that education requires?
KJ: It is always the kids that motivate me to put in the blood, sweat, and tears! They teach ME stuff— especially how to be a better teacher! I love being around them, especially middle schoolers. It is the relationships that I get to establish with the kids that motivates me to help them learn. So many different learning styles…so many different teaching styles….both allow me to create lessons that are motivating, fun and hopefully address many of the learning styles kids have. I am motivated by the challenges itself of creating lessons that engage them and make them desire to learn. Knowing them helps me know their styles and brings on that challenges. My colleagues motivate and challenge me, too. As the old saying goes, “Iron sharpens iron,” and I am blessed to work with amazing team of teachers and with an amazing staff and administration.
FEA: What role do teachers have in the community?
KJ: I think, in our world today, teachers have many roles. We have a role of providing the best experience in education for all students to the best of our abilities, keeping up with the latest technology (especially now), but also so many others. We try to be role models, “caregivers,” “counselors,” listeners, encouragers….the list goes on. If we are to provide a solid education, it is not just about the academics. It is also about establishing trust and rapport with each student and about looking at each of them academically, emotionally, physically, mentally, spiritually, (etc.) Looking at the child as a whole when teaching them, recognizing each child learns differently, at different rates. It is definitely a challenging but rewarding role!
FEA: What is a moment you would like to share from your profession?
KJ: Overall, in a culmination of many moments, this profession has taught me a quote many have heard before: “They (students) don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” This has been evident in all 30 years of my experience so far in the teaching profession. I have been reminded that I am a life-long learner as I continue to learn, not only from my colleagues, but also from my students on ways to improve my teaching. I will never pretend to, nor am I afraid to admit to them, that I don’t know all the answers, but we can try to find them out together.