Teacher Feature: Jamie Gressett assists students with high school transition

By April Clark Honaker

Jamie Gressett is currently in the midst of year 21 at Ruston High School where she teaches English in the Freshman Academy. 

Gressett comes from a family of educators but initially thought she wanted to do something different. After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in English from Louisiana Tech University, Gressett worked a few different jobs before reconsidering education as a career path.

Just as Gressett was enrolling in graduate school for education, her mom helped facilitate her first teaching position. Gressett’s mother was teaching at Haughton High School when a position teaching ninth-grade English suddenly opened there just a couple weeks before school started. 

Although she had thought she would pursue teaching elementary students, Gressett accepted the position teaching ninth graders and has been teaching high school ever since. 

“I realized really fast that it was the right choice for me,” she said. “This definitely is the age I click the best with, and I like the content.” 

Gressett became certified through an alternative certification program and earned a master’s degree while teaching as well. 

Gressett has now been teaching freshmen at Ruston High for nearly ten years. “I really like helping with the transition to high school,” she said. “They usually end up really liking the school and getting involved.” 

The Freshman Academy is key to smoothing their transition from junior high. “It’s all about getting the kids acquainted with the high school and getting them set up for success,” Gressett said. “I feel like that’s really where I’m supposed to be. I get to help them more, and I really like all the initiatives we have.” 

When it comes to teaching English, Gressett’s favorite topics are Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” and “Anthem,” a dystopian novel by Ayn Rand. 

When they read “Romeo and Juliet,” Gressett said they also learn about the development of the teenage brain, and they examine the characters’ reckless decisions and their lack of parental guidance. 

“I feel like the kids realize it’s not really a love story,” Gressett said. At the same time, the characters’ behaviors are relatable, even to teenagers today. Gressett said the same is true of “Anthem,” and there are a lot of lessons to be learned from that book. “All the units are really good,” she said.

In addition to teaching, Gressett, along with fellow English teacher Ashlee Bell, serves as a sponsor for the student council. This role means Gressett helps facilitate planning of projects and events, such as the school’s annual Christmas service project.

Gressett also maintains the social media for the student council and for the school, which means using platforms such as Facebook and Instagram to raise public awareness of school-related happenings and to promote the school. 

Because of her roles, Gressett said students seem to feel comfortable approaching her with new ideas and questions. She hopes that in her service to the school and the students, they see how much she loves Ruston High School. 

Gressett’s dad modeled how to build relationships with students, and she said she tries to do the same. “I feel like the relationships are important,” she said. “I want every kid to know that they’re important and that they matter.” 

Gressett said she also hopes they choose to get involved in the school somehow. “There’s something for everybody here,” she said, “and that’s one thing I love the most.”  

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