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Meet Jessica

By Mickey, #FutureHero dog reporter

Jessica works as a Spanish language high school teacher and teaches Spanish 3, Spanish 4, and AP Spanish. “When I was little, I’d always thought about being a teacher. I was the little girl who liked to play teacher,” she laughed. “My first thought was I would major in psychology, but I always liked teaching, and I kept going back to that idea. I just had a calling for it.”

How does she do it?

“As a language teacher, a lot of the work involves either listening or speaking,” she says. “For the writing, we are fortunate to have Chromebooks at our school, so the students are doing the written assignments and the assessments on the computer, and I can access them that way.” Like other teachers, she also has a teaching assistant in the room, and she can help with handwritten assignments or other situations where seeing is required. “That’s not very frequent.”

But what about when the students raise their hands?

“My classroom is the one where the students aren’t allowed to raise their hands,” she said. “I encourage them to speak up if they have a question or something to contribute. This is a language class, so we want them to speak up. It’s also interesting because in a professional setting, at a business meeting for example, you don’t normally raise your hand. So this is preparing them for the real world.”

In addition to her day job, Jessica also has a new one… being a mother to her son born on June 5! “And at the same time I was graduating from Montclair State University with my master’s degree,” Jessica laughed. “I’m still not sure how I did it.” Jessica says she gets a lot of help from her husband, her family, and tips from an online parenting group for blind parents. But it mostly just takes practice, she says. “I was most afraid of changing diapers. I probably use more wipes than a sighted parent would because I want to make sure every area is clean,” she said. “Honestly, it’s more about being a new mom than about being a blind mom.”

Her first dog, Hetty, still lives with her but is now retired. Jessica was matched with her new dog, Jaime – also a yellow Labrador retriever – in August 2017. But Hetty stays busy – she has been certified as a therapy dog! “Hetty is now 13 and in excellent health, and I think that’s because Jaime keeps her playing every day,” Jessica said. “It keeps her young!”