Jessica (Bennett) Meeker walked into familiar territory on her first day as a teacher in the Redwood Area School District.
After all, the RVHS graduate (Class of 2004) spent time at Reede Gray Elementary as a student learning the basics of education that later led to her decision to teach.
“I started here when I was in the second grade,” Meeker said, adding the school does look quite a bit different than she remembers.
One aspect that is different has much to do with what Meeker is teaching this school year.
As one of three multi-cultural literacy educators in the elementary school, Meeker works with students in Grades 1-3 in creating awareness of the world around her all the while helping to enhance the reading education students receive.
Meeker attended the Mankato campus of Minnesota State Univer-sity where she began pursuit of a degree in theater.
However, her perspective changed and by the time she graduated Meeker had earned a degree in early childhood education.
Since then Meeker has also earned a masters degree in educational leadership from SMSU in Marshall.
Meeker spent the past four years teaching first grade in Austin before opting to move back home.
Meeker said she decided to pursue a degree in teaching because of teachers, such as Jeanette Lothert who demonstrated a level of care for her students that made an impression on Meeker.
It was also in elementary school where her love for reading began.
Demonstrating that same kind of care for the students she meets and helping them develop reading skills they are going to use for the rest of their lives is what Meeker wants to bring to the students she encounters during the school day.
Meeker said she opted to pursue a degree in early childhood education, because she believes at that level students still have a love for learning. She also said they are not afraid to try new things and to be honest and open in the classroom.
She also said she really loves working with little kids.
Meeker’s role at the school is part-time, as she meets with classes for about half an hour each week.
“I do three or four sessions each day,” she explained.
While the first few weeks have focused primarily on reading, Meeker said the program is going to be introducing England in an effort to help students gain more understanding of people in another part of the world.
Meeker does not have her own classroom, and moves her material from room to room often via a cart, and what she offers to the students she meets with variers from one visit to another. One session might include reading a book, while another might involved signing songs or having small group discussions about what they are learning.
Page 2 of 2 - Meeker said she loved her first teaching job as a first-grade teacher in Austin, but said she wanted to move closer to home.
“I wanted a change,” she said, “and I wanted to be closer to family.”
Meeker said she is also helping out with the early childhood program when they have special events, and is working part time for her parents.
In the future she also hopes to get involved with the theater program, both in the school and in the community, as theater is still a passion.
In her spare time, Meeker enjoys playing golf, being outside and spending time with her family, including husband Michael, who is teaching at RVMS.
Meeker said things have been going very well, and she admitted while it might have been different to come in to teach at the school where she was taught, the staff have been very supportive.
Meeker said she is glad to be home and is looking forward to being part of the community that did so much for her during her growing up years.