Teacher Spotlight: Christa Jessup

teacher spotlight

This week we welcome Christa Jessup, a 5th grade teacher at Line Creek Elementary in the Park Hill School District.  This is her 3rd year participating in KC Kids Unite and we are so fortunate to have her leadership in our work!

Christa describes her students as an eclectic assortment of beautiful souls.  Many students are siblings of students she’s had in the past.  The majority of the parents know her well. This is the best group of kids she’s had in ten years.  They are excited about learning and helping others. They initiate neighborhood service projects and lots of quality academic work outside of class to share with peers.    

As a teacher, most days, she feels confident addressing what comes her way.  There are days, here and there, when she feels the need to tap into the strong network of educators she’s encountered to gain insight.  She’s thankful for previous students that have challenged her and for the opportunities she’s been able to be a part of at the school and district level.  She’s definitely feeling fulfilled and like she’s doing what she’s supposed to be doing. Most of all, she’s thrilled to wake up and share each day with her students.

Learning comes alive when it feels meaningful… and fun. Can’t forget about fun!  

Christa believes community is fluid.  It’s any group of people or location that makes you feel a sense of comfort.  When she was younger, I felt like my definition of community was my hometown- more of a geographical location.  As I’ve gotten older, I feel like my definition of community grew because I learned and acknowledged that many places and people can provide a sense of community.  My understanding and definition of community changed because I changed. I’m sure it will continue to evolve.

Within a community, she’d love for her students to feel a sense of community within classroom, school, neighborhood, family, friend network, and organizations of choice.  The factors that create a sense of community are freedom to be self (acceptance), trust, emotional safety, and physical safety. These factors all lead to one essential element- comfort.

Christa has been drawn to KC Kids Unite since its inception.  The idea to encourage kids to feel valued and to value others is often the heart of any teacher.  Each year, she feels like her words to introduce and explain the KC Kids Unite Program to families pales in comparison to what is actually felt and experienced by families after participating in the KC Kids Unite Program.  She anticipates this year will be the same- her students will be emotionally impacted by learning and sharing about oneself and community, as well as connecting with other kids in Kansas City.

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Teacher Spotlight: Michael Jones

teacher spotlight

Please join me in welcoming Michael Jones, a first time participant of the project.  He teaches 4th grade at Pembroke Hill Lower School (Grades K-5).  Pembroke Hill is a private school with a mission to work “together, cultivating the best in each, for the benefit of all.”

Michael’s students are primarily upper middle class, close knit, energetic, caring, curious, inquisitive, sharp, and open minded.  As a teacher he is joyful, vulnerable, loving, connected, and maintains high expectations of his students.  Learning comes alive for his students when learning is connected to daily experience in a meaningful way.

Michael defines community as a space where one feels accepted for who they are, what they believe in and how they present themselves. Community is where members have equal rights to responsibilities, ownership of accomplishments and have a full voice in their shared experience.  To create this in his classroom community strives to build a similar vision among his students. I also feel that the adults set the tone per respect, compassion, scholarship, integrity and belief in one another. Once that is put in place, the students feel the connectedness of their leaders and it flows to other relationships.

Michael was drawn to this work because he wants his students to integrate writing in real world situations as they connect and share their life experience with others that have a different reality. I want to expose them to other ways of living and how to relate with those who are different.  

He is hopeful the project will open the eyes of my students to new realities and have them hopefully stop and think about those around them in a more meaningful, compassionate and genuine way. I feel that the students can and could impact their parents’ perspectives as well and start to make change in their lives.

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Once again, welcome to KC Kids Unite!  We are so excited for the impact you and your students will bring to this work!