Jessica Ekins is a welcome addition to the RCHS English classrooms. She is the second Lord Fairfax Community College intern for this spring semester. To earn her grade for the 200-level Introduction to Teaching course, she must complete 40 hours of real-world observations in a high school classroom. From her many possible choices, Ekins chose Rappahannock County.
Her collegiate experience began at Radford University in 2007. “I did love it there, actually. I just wanted to be closer to home, so I came back. This is my third semester at LFCC, and I’m not taking the classic approach to graduating in two years. I’m taking a broad range of classes. It’s going really well.”
Ekins’ background of interest in the teaching profession has been a process. “Interest in teaching was there for me, but the passion is what grew over the years. What hindered my initial desire was that my sister was studying to be an elementary teacher, and I wanted to do something besides copy her. I was tutoring my little brother, and I realized I had knack for teaching. I really enjoyed it.”
Like most community college students, Ekins plans to transfer to a four-year school later. “I haven’t completely decided where I want to transfer. I’ll be taking more classes at LFCC after earning my associate’s degree because the cost is less. George Mason University and James Madison University are considerations. I’d like to be an English teacher.”
After two weeks in the intern phase of her course, Ekins says she has learned a few things. “I definitely see that a teacher’s need to multitask wasn’t a rumor. I only had a student’s perspective before this class. As a student, you don’t see most of what goes on. I used to think a planning period was a quiet time where a teacher got work done. There are so many interruptions that teachers have to take home a lot of their work.”
Beyond learning a few truths about the realities of the teaching profession, Ekins also has a changed perspective. “Funny, but I had always pictured myself teaching in a big school. After coming to RCHS, I told my family that I love the small school atmosphere Everyone is familiar with each other’s teaching styles. It’s much easier to help the students when teachers communicate like this. I also like how teachers here develop a strong relationship with their students. The faculty works together. It’s a friendly environment. I feel comfortable already, and I don’t even work here.”
For the remainder of her internship, Ekins has other experiences on the horizon. She is on target to observe English and history teachers in action, but her biggest challenge is ahead: stepping into the role of a teacher and becoming “Miss Ekins” for the first time. The Cambridge English and AP English students are preparing to welcome a guest teacher in their midst for a couple of classes. Ekins says, “I am both excited and nervous.” She shares those feelings with hundreds of first-time teachers, and it’s a great start.