Jess Waggoner passed several signs on her path to becoming a teacher. She grew up near her large extended family in New Jersey, where she was the oldest of 16 cousins. She loved looking after the kids in her family, and that’s where her passion for working with kids began. After her sophomore year at CU Boulder, she again found herself working with youngsters at a summer camp on Cape Cod and she finally knew.
“That's when I feel in love with teaching,” she explained. “Those kids had some pretty difficult home lives, but no matter what they went through, they brought so much joy and love with them every day. After years of people telling me I might like teaching, I finally realized that there could be no more rewarding job.”
The summer taught Waggoner as much about herself as she taught the children. As soon as she returned to CU Boulder, she knew what she needed to do. She submitted her application to the teacher licensure program in the School of Education. “One of the best decisions I've ever made,” she said.
Waggoner credits her professors with helping her grow as a teacher and a person. Her professors describe her as a scholar of equitable and engaged teaching, who is unfailingly dedicated, compassionate, and collaborative. Her mentor teachers and supervisors praise her devotion to honoring children’s knowledge, her innovative instruction, and the joy with which she lives her commitments to children and their learning.
This spring, Waggoner was a student teacher at STEM Launch Elementary in Adams 12 Five Star Schools, and her role there has inspired her to return to teach in high-needs areas in the future.
“One of the many things I love about the School of Ed is that we are able to participate in practicum experiences,” she said. “Rather than taking a passive role, we were able to implement what we were learning in our methods classes in classrooms. When I finally made it to student teaching, I felt prepared to start teaching right away.”
After graduation, Waggoner is looking forward to her next adventure. She plans to teach English in Thailand before returning to the U.S. Teaching in Colorado is definitely a possibility, she says.
“I feel so honored to be part of such a wonderful community in the School of Ed,” Waggoner said. “Colorado has a special place in my heart. I have a passion for adventuring outdoors, and there is a lot of skiing I still want to do and mountains I want to summit. So, I could really see myself coming back here to fulfill my passions for getting outside and teaching.”