Meet Jessica.

Mar 27, 2019 | Blog, Stories

Jessica Baumer, Founding Kindergarten Teacher, Impact Public Schools: Puget Sound Elementary

This is my seventh year teaching, and my third time being part of a founding team at a charter public school. My heart just goes to where the work is—where there is the greatest need for the most difference to be made. Before Impact, I taught for IDEA Public Schools in San Antonio, where I saw firsthand how high-quality schools can change the narrative for so many students. I had an amazing experience there, yet felt a strong tug to come back to make a difference in my home state of Washington.

Kindergarten is so exciting. This is most students’ first experience in a structured setting. Every day is like Christmas morning. They are “all lit up” – literally, their brains are lighting up – making connections, laying foundation and setting the mold. It’s such an important journey, and I love being part of the newness, the excitement, and building that foundation.

Every morning we start the day with mentor group check-ins. In these small groups, we are able to have really crucial, important conversations. We end each week doing a circle with our students. They share one word about how they’re feeling. We bond with each other, resonate, and just make sure that we are taking care of one another. This aspect of Impact’s model was a huge draw for me. One thing I have always taught in my classroom, regardless of where I was, is that there is so much we cannot control, but one of the things that we can control is how we treat others, and ourselves.

Being kind is just so, so important. I really love how the Impact model focuses on emotional well-being. This really spoke to my personal mission, and was definitely a huge factor in my decision to join the founding Impact team.

It is so valuable to think of the family as a whole.  Before the school year begins, we do home visits, which allows us to see the environments in which our scholars are growing up. We get to meet a lot of relatives, and ask parents what their hopes and dreams are for their child. Often, school wasn’t a good experience for their mom or dad. By going into their home, it kind of breaks that barrier from the beginning, and it creates a path for us to align from the start. For our student, this home visit is truly magical. Months later, they still reflect on that. “Remember when you were at my house and you saw my room? You met my dog?” It’s such a sweet and powerful way to start our relationships.

Getting to work with students, and help growing their mind is just the most liberating and exciting thing to be a part of—ever. If I had to choose five words to describe my classroom, they would be: loving, inviting, joyful, engaging, and educational. For me, this work is energizing. The real reward is getting to see your students grow their minds, and get excited about learning.