Jessica Guthrie is our seventh and eighth-grade literature teacher. “Teaching is something I am passionate about, and while I was in the formative years of my college education, I took it upon myself to experience as many teaching environments as I could. The philosophy of classical education and the real classroom application, to me, feels like the purest form of teaching and where I best thrive.”
Continue reading her story below.
Who were some of the most influential teachers you had growing up? What made them so impactful?
Growing up, I had the opportunity to experience being homeschooled, along with my four siblings. My mom had a way of making learning immersive and interactive. Her passion for learning and teaching sparked my desire to never stop learning and to embrace the life of a teacher. It is my desire to teach students to “love what they learn” and have that be something that drives them for the rest of their lives.
What drew you to classical education? What about it makes you want to teach in a classical education setting?
Teaching is something I am passionate about, and while I was in the formative years of my college education, I took it upon myself to experience as many teaching environments as I could. The philosophy of classical education and the real classroom application, to me, feels like the purest form of teaching and where I best thrive. There are fewer distractions and you get to experience the material in a way that brings your students into the learning process. You rely on them to be responsible for their learning, and to wrestle with some of life’s biggest questions best learned through English, history, science, math and the arts. My momentum and passion increases as I get to guide students through the learning process in this way.
What is your favorite classical book and why?
My favorite book changes every year, but at this moment, my favorite book is Robinson Crusoe. While it is an engaging story, that involves Crusoe getting trapped on an island, and fighting mutineers and cannibals, it also asks many deeper questions. It asks and makes one ponder questions like: What makes a good leader? How should you treat people different from you? What consequences come from selfish actions?
Which virtue resonates most with you? How do you incorporate it into your classroom?
Persevering through all obstacles and pursuing success in all things resonates most with me. I often tell my students, “I am a real person too,” and that I understand getting overwhelmed, overloaded or forgetful. If for some reason they get overwhelmed with classwork, or get stuck and feel like they cannot meet my expectations, I want them to always know that they can come and talk to me. I do not make excuses for incomplete or insufficient work, but sometimes there are real-life obstacles holding back a student from reaching his or her potential. I would rather be able to have a conversation about how we can create a plan to help them persevere through rather than have them be anxious and afraid to talk to me about their shortcomings or obstacles keeping them back from being their best.
What is your favorite part of teaching?
Plato said, “The object of education is to teach us to love what is beautiful.” It is finding the beauty in the curriculum and stories I get to read with my students that encourages me to keep teaching. When they see the beauty in it, it sparks an appreciation in them. Watching them light up when they might not have seen it before, that is my favorite part.
What techniques do you use that students really gravitate toward?
Very often, students gravitate towards open and guided discussions as they are active participants in the process. Each class period is driven by questions about the human experience, and the form and function of writing. Students love the lively discussion that comes from the organic questions that come from the text and each other.
How would a student best describe you?
Students would describe me as kind, humorous, and encouraging. Last year, students had the opportunity to give me feedback on my teaching and they said things such as:
“Your literary insight is amazing,”
“Your knowledge of grammar seems infinite,”
“You believe in what we can achieve and that we can change the world around us,”
“Mrs. Gutherie always pushes me to my limits, which has helped me in my education,”
and “You are a kind and funny teacher and I like that you take time to explain concepts to your students.”
My personal favorite is, “I would rather learn than play Fortnite,” which we all know is no small feat.
What would your colleagues say about you?
My colleagues would say that I am someone who would do anything to ensure LCA, including the staff and the students, have everything they need. I am a person who will make sacrifices for others.
What was your journey to obtain your college degree? What school did you attend? Where did you teach previously and for how long?
I attended Concordia University in Ann Arbor, Michigan. I graduated and received my bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and Language Arts. I have begun my Master’s degree curriculum in Curriculum and Instruction with an ESL endorsement at Concordia University.
Shortly after graduating, I worked at Shepherd of the Lakes Lutheran School teaching 6th-8th grade ELA. I then came to LCA and taught 4th Grade for two years before moving up to teaching 7th and 8th grade ELA and 9th-grade composition.
What do you do outside of the classroom?
Outside of the classroom, I love reading, painting, and singing. I also have become an avid party planner and enjoy interior decorating. During the summer, my favorite things to do are biking, swimming and traveling.