This Black History Month, our Black Student Union and Alumnae Office partnered to create a Q&A series connecting students with notable Black alumnae. Next up is Jessica Jones ‘09!
Jessica Jones graduated from Mother McAuley Liberal Arts High School in 2009. After McAuley, she attended the University of Notre Dame, graduating in 2013 with her Bachelor of Arts and her Masters in Education in 2015. She is currently working as a Senior Educator in the Education Department at the Museum of Science and Industry. In this role, Jessica provides professional development experiences for teachers and administrators throughout the Chicagoland area. She also works as adjunct faculty for the University of Notre Dame, Alliance for Catholic Education, teaching and mentoring aspiring and new classroom teachers.
Jessica attributes much of her drive and confidence to her time as a student at Mother McAuley. As a young McAuley woman, she learned to strive for her goals while trusting and collaborating with her peers. Mother McAuley provided Jessica with the strong academic and social foundation necessary to thrive. Check out the Q & A below…
What wisdom would you share to a Mighty Mac that is interested in potentially studying in the education field in college? - Naiyah Taylor
Stay curious. Education is a fascinating field with many branches and specializations. Take the time in college to explore different areas of study and find what draws your interest. Nothing compares to actually getting hands-on experience in a space with your audience - student teaching, working as an assistant with a speech pathologist, being a teaching assistant for a professor, etc. Talk to experts in their fields and try as many things as you can before narrowing in on one specific area.
As a mentor and teacher, what advice would you give to others aspiring to become leaders in their communities and in their future careers? - Mia Luckett
I think the most important advice I've received is to be a life-long learner. The workspace and the needs of our world are changing rapidly. Being ready and willing to keep up with the latest research in your field will help you be adaptable and able to respond in ways that are relevant to your audience, whether those are clients at work or your community members. I aspire to learn as much as I can in my field and about the community I work with, daily, so I can best support and meet the needs of the people I work with and lead.
What does your typical work day look like while at the museum? - Naailah Lane
My day-to-day schedule varies as a Senior Educator in the Education Department at the Museum of Science and Industry. Because I coach classroom teachers and administrators around whole-school science improvement, during the day, I am often visiting schools to observe classes and staff meetings or meeting with teacher leaders to problem-solve challenges their school teams are facing. Sometimes I work after school hours with cohorts of teachers or administrators leading them through professional development activities, coaching them around their leadership practices, or helping facilitate relationships between staff at different schools.
What were the advantages/ disadvantages you faced attending MMc as an African American woman? - Hayley Dotson
I am an introvert who was often the only, or one of the only, Black women in my honors and AP classes at Mother McAuley. I appreciated that I often felt welcomed by both other students and my teachers. This allowed me to make friends and I felt encouraged to join extracurricular activities that made me truly feel a part of the Mother McAuley community. I feel however that in the mid-aughts, schools focused less on cultural competency and truly creating safe spaces for students of color to connect, feel empowered, and bond over their shared experiences. I wish I'd had an education that cultivated in me a stronger and more empowered sense of self as a young, Black, woman who didn’t feel like I needed to justify my place and belonging at a large predominantly white institution (PWI) institution like the University of Notre Dame.
Thank you so much, Jessica, for sharing your time and wisdom with us! Stay tuned for more Black History Month spotlights!