Jennifer (Roesler) Portchmouth ’00 once said that she started her passion for teaching so early that she actually gave spelling tests to her Teddy bears.
“They all got 100%,” the SJC Brooklyn graduate told an online newsletter for the boarding school she teaches at in England.
As part of national Teacher Appreciation Week, OnCampus caught up with the Queens native for a Q&A about her experiences as a teacher and as a student back in the late 1990s on SJC Brooklyn’s Clinton Hill campus.
OnCampus: Please talk about where you are teaching?
Roesler: I am currently teaching at TASIS, which is an international boarding school just south of London, England. It is a school that for children aged 3-18. I teach first grade and I am a deputy house parent in a junior and senior boys boarding house. I have been lucky to change grade levels every few years to strengthen my skills. In my years here at TASIS, I have taught K, 1 and 2. I have always worked as part of the boarding program.
I love teaching and working with people from all over the world. There is such a wonderful sense of internationalism and open-mindedness within the school. The children have been able to see the beauty of the country they are currently living in, due to the many field trips we have been able to take. The school has such a strong parent community, so you feel that this is a true partnership. Personally, I enjoy being a continued tourist and exploring the many open spaces and public footpaths.
When degree did you earn from SJC Brooklyn?
I graduated from SJC Brooklyn with a degree in Child Study and Special Education with an Annotation in Early Childhood Education.
My favorite memories are eating lunch outside on the steps of the buildings, working in the on-campus daycare center, and having classes within the brownstone buildings. It is strange that I can still remember meeting up with friends in the cafeteria and using the card catalog to find books in the library. (I am totally showing my age here.)
I feel that St. Joe’s prepared me for what to face in the classroom. I still can refer to my child development classes and apply this to my teaching. Also, it taught me not to be afraid to stand up for what I know is right when it comes to what is best for my students. It was my first step of independence as a learner and a person. It cemented for me that I was born to do this. I have always been thankful that St. Joe’s gave so much practice in the school setting — with working in the daycare, brief stays the private sector and a full year of student teaching. Teaching is hard, but being able to work hands-on and to feel part of a team from the start help to ease this.
Please discuss where you live now, and why you have chosen to live there?
I live close to my school with my husband and son. It is such a beautiful area with a small-town feel. After living in Queens, it feels wonderful to live in a village with sheep, horses, and green space really close by while still being able to enjoy the sights of London with ease.