Jessica Avery: Social Studies
Jessica Avery, a second-year teacher at Manitou Springs High School, decided to resign this year because she felt like she could not make the impact on students the way she initially hoped. Avery began her teaching career in 2020-2021. She teaches Foundations of Social Studies and Sociology. With the impact of COVID-19, her career as a teacher started off in a difficult and strange way. She wanted to have an impactful influence on her students and teach them applicable skills, which led to her being hard on herself and her lessons.
“One of the main ingredients that led me to resign was not having enough time to feel like I could produce quality work, ” Avery said. “I feel like I don’t have enough time as an educator to create meaningful instruction, to be present with my students, to follow up with timely ongoing feedback, collaborate on different lessons and then to communicate to stakeholders: parents, students, colleagues.”
Each teacher at MSHS is provided one ninety minute plan period a day; but school events, such as assemblies, helping students and colleagues, responding to emails and grading assignments takes up most of that time. Teachers are left with little time to plan lessons and make curriculum during the school day. This factor impacted Avery the most, as her main goal as a teacher was to plan to produce effective lessons and curriculum that would teach her students valuable lessons.
I feel like I don’t have enough time as an educator to create meaningful instruction, to be present with my students, to follow up with timely ongoing feedback, collaborate on different lessons and then to communicate to stakeholders: parents, students, colleagues.”
— Jessica Avery
“When you make your decision about what you want to do in your life, you really need to consider work and life balance,” Avery said. “And as an employee, but also as a person, you want to do something that’s inspiring but also manageable.”
Work and life balance are important to all; but as a teacher, sometimes life starts to revolve around students and curriculum. As Avery started experiencing this imbalance, it led her to consider her health and priorities. The insufficient time to prepare and conduct classes had Avery questioning herself as a teacher and the quality of her work.
“I love teaching, and I love making curriculum; but if I don’t have the means to produce a quality product and then be present with my students, rather than in my head, running through, oh, did this person get their medication? Did I write a pass for this person for Advisory? Oh, we have an assembly coming up …then I can’t be present with the people right in front of me,” Avery said.
We are losing an individual who is truly excited about education and truly wants to educate young people.”
— Brian Brown
Brian Brown, the department chair for social studies at MSHS, has worked here for about 16 years and has seen many teachers come and go. As Avery became a teacher at MSHS, Brown served as her mentor teacher and got to know her and her personality.
Brown believes that Avery has created a positive environment around her coworkers, and has been an impactful influence on the social studies department.
“We are losing an individual who is truly excited about education and truly wants to educate young people,” Brown said.
Brown described Avery as a person who puts everything into her job. “With her swimming background and the drive that she has, it is just so much fun to see the fire that she has that lights her up,” Brown said. “She kind of takes on the world that way. She’s all in. I mean, there’s no ‘maybe I’ll think about it’ when she gets involved.”
This drive could be a major contributing factor to the balance that Avery struggled to find. “You hear the term ‘burnout’ and by being in all the time, I imagine that has to be stressful for her,” Brown said.
I think if I saw the ability to have more time, that would make me want to stay because now I think it’s feasible to check off all the tasks within a given day,” Avery said. “However, not having that time makes me think that I can’t do it unless I now extend the job into my personal time.”
— Jessica Avery
Students have also noticed and adored how Avery puts in so much effort to make her curriculum fascinating and enjoyable for her and her students.
Senior Claire Kisielnicki took Sociology from Avery this year. “She’s a very kind person. You can tell that she genuinely cares about all of our students and she puts an effort to always check in on us,” Kisielnicki said. “Her understanding of everything, being a really good teacher, and the way she taught in a way that was easy for students to understand is what we will miss the most.”
Although Kisielnicki is sad to see her go, she understands Avery’s decision. “I think her resignation is understandable,” Kisielnicki said. “There was so much pressure as a teacher during COVID. She had to go through all of that and not even have a real first year of teaching. I’m sure it was so stressful, and it was probably hard for her to adjust. So I completely understand why she wants to resign. It makes sense.”
Avery has put a lot of thought into resigning, but it comes down to the unbalance of personal and work time. She loves MSHS and the students, and she loves teaching applicable skills and knowledge as well as global awareness, not just facts and dates to her students. Overall, Avery enjoyed and loved teaching, and if philosophes were different she would love to continue teaching.
“I think if I saw the ability to have more time, that would make me want to stay because now I think it’s feasible to check off all the tasks within a given day,” Avery said. “However, not having that time makes me think that I can’t do it unless I now extend the job into my personal time.”