Mrs. Jessica Chavers started at PA Distance during the 2020-2021 school year to teach 3rd grade Social Studies and English Language Arts (ELA). Now, in her second school year, she is solely focusing on teaching ELA.
“I wanted to be a teacher my whole life,” she said. “Like other current teachers, I played a lot of school growing up with the kids in my neighborhood.”
She earned her B.S. in Elementary and Early Childhood Education from Slippery Rock University and later on an M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction from Lesley University.
Before starting at PA Distance, she taught at a brick-and-mortar school district in Las Vegas, NV. Mrs. Chavers is originally from the greater Pittsburgh area and, after getting married and having children, she wanted to move back home to be around extended family. More recently, after switching gears this past year and beginning to teach more virtually, she gained an interest in continuing to teach in a cyber setting.
“I didn’t think I would enjoy teaching virtually as much as I do,” she explained.
Her whole career, she has loved to teach reading and the foundations of phonics to young students still learning and mastering the basics of reading and writing.
“My students enjoy moving from learning how to read to learning from reading and analyzing the texts,” she said. “They recognize that they’re making an academic jump that they will continue doing throughout their academic career.”
“I love teaching the little ones especially,” she said. “I never want to leave elementary.”
To aid in her student’s success, Mrs. Chavers hosts a weekly 30-minute enrichment time based on their individual needs separate from her live classes. These targeted measures are designed based on student class data and baseline testing data.
This school year, Mrs. Chavers is especially excited to begin using a new curriculum product called MyView Literacy.
MyView literacy embeds Social Emotional Learning, so along with their reading instruction, students are learning about goal setting, building relationships, solving problems, and respecting others. It also includes various reading and writing lessons that focus on both whole and small group learning, and the texts focus on science and social studies themes.
“I’m excited about diving into MyView Literacy,” she said. “It’s such a robust and thorough program with a huge writing component that will really help our students.”
To keep the lines of communication open, Mrs. Chavers makes quarterly calls, sends emails, hosts office hours for parents to attend, and ask questions. She also holds independent time at the end of each live learning class so students (and parents) can ask questions or seek help.
“Parent support and involvement are so critical in elementary school - especially in a cyber setting,” she explained.
Being new to PA Distance, Mrs. Chavers has been leaning on a variety of support systems as she gets a hang of a new school and new teaching environment. Before a new teacher starts teaching at PA Distance, they begin a formal 1-year induction process to learn about the school and what teaching is like in a cyber environment. New teachers are matched up with a staff mentor whom they work with throughout the induction year to shadow classes, watch lessons, view curriculum mapping, the blended model and vision, and learn the ropes.
Mrs. Chaver’s recently completed her 1-year induction but still benefits from advice and help from her assigned mentor who is always available to help when needed.
“The community at PA Distance is supportive and I couldn’t have asked for a better staff mentor, Mrs. Thornton, and a better principal, Mrs. Ploesch,” she said.