This article was Written by Carson Beard who is a senior in the Journalism class. This article was written as part of the “New Faces” series that recognizes new staff members to the U32 Community.
Even at a young age, Jessica Wills knew she wanted to work with kids. One Christmas she asked only for a chalkboard to practice teaching her two sisters, which was a hard task, being the middle child.
“That’s an experience that I can hang my hat on,” she said, “of why I do what I do now.”
Jess and her sister during her childhood
Following this path has led Jessica to become U-32’s new assistant principal. Coming from People’s Academy as a special educator, she is now the Assistant Principal, taking the place of Jody Emerson, who is now at the Central Vermont Tech Center.
Jessica was born in Texas on a military base, and grew up going to a catholic school. She remembers it as “a pretty tense and suffocating experience, uniforms, nuns, the whole nine yards.”
It all changed in fourth grade, when her father was stationed in Vermont. She fell in love with the state and has stayed there ever since.
Although Jessica might be new to U-32, she definitely isn’t new to teaching. Since graduating high school, her only career has been working with kids.
She started off as a kindergarten teacher, then moved to People’s Academy. She has taught many things including middle school, was a literacy coach and worked in special ed.
“I haven’t had any career other than a teacher since I was 20,” she said. “I love to watch them learn and be part of that process for them.”
She’s learned a lot in the past 20 years, but her most impactful lesson for teaching came when she was in the fourth grade. She was struggling in school, and the teacher held a meeting with her mother.
Jess never forgot what the teacher had told her mother: “Jess will never learn to read, she’ll never be a reader, you should just think about something else that she’s going to do in life because she’s not going to go to school or go to college.” She only found this out later in life as an adult.
Jess learned from this that any kid can learn and change, if given the right path.“We need to look at ourselves and see what we can do differently.”
She went to People’s Academy for high school, where “I found my group of friends through sports.” Jessica played a sport every season, filling her schedule up. But her main sport was softball, winning the state championship her junior year.
Jess’s senior year photo at People’s Academy
Although Jess grew up in Texas, she absorbs the qualities of Vermont, spending her time with her family or playing sports like mountain biking and running, even gearing up to run her second marathon this October.
Here at U-32 Jessica is a new face, but she knows that teaching doesn’t always work with every student.
Jessica along with some members of Admin on Halloween (Jessica is second from the left)
“We just need to look at it from another angle,” she said. “And see how we can help them.”