I had the pleasure of meeting Jessica through Presley (always a great connector, that girl!). Jessica just began her first year teaching, and she is such a light. I loved taking pictures of her for her amazing blog, Dabbling in Dallas – but most of all, I loved spending the morning getting to know her sweet heart. And now you get to meet her, too!
Tell us about yourself! Hello! My name is Jessica and I’m originally from Tulsa, Oklahoma. I went to Oklahoma State University and graduated with a degree in Elementary Education. I always enjoyed being around kids but never really considered a career in teaching until my older brother suggested I give it a shot during my senior year of high school, so I decided to major in education and never looked back! After graduating, I moved to Dallas last September and have the joy of teaching 4th graders everyday. I’m also enjoying running a little blog on the side that I’ve used to document my first year of living in Dallas.
What inspires you? The first thing that came to my mind was people! I’m constantly inspired by hearing others stories and getting to know people on a deeper level. Seeing someone’s compassion towards another, or a friend who is really gifted in art, or even hearing someone overcome a season of trials in their life…it all just continues to amaze me how we are all wired so uniquely and that we’re constantly growing and evolving through our experiences.
I also feel very inspired in my job! As a teacher, I’m around kids all day who are imaginative, risk-taking, and eager to ask questions and dream big. A kid typically asks between 300 and 500 questions a day! They’re like sponges wanting to absorb everything and as adults we often lose that sense of wonder and empowerment, so I feel lucky to get to be around that kind of energy everyday.
What are your gifts and talents? Sometimes I think I’m still trying to figure this question out and navigating through this area of finding my giftedness and how it will bring God glory. I love to write and encourage others through words, I have a passion for photography and different creative outlets, but I don’t know if I have identified how I’ll use it just yet.
As a child though, I remember being very competitive and persistent about things, really anything I did. I was always running my heart out on the soccer field as a kid trying to beat any team that we were losing to, even if we were down 5 goals. I remember having this innate, stubborn drive to want to be better and to desire to do what I’d set my mind to doing. I even had a favorite quote from my grade school years written down and it said, “Finish what you start”. It’s kind of laughable to look back on, but I think in some ways I’m still that same person. I love to set goals and see them through. All that to say, I believe what was once used for my own personal gain has evolved. It’s become a drive that God has given me to use to encourage and motivate others in my life whether they are my students, family, or close friends.
How do you use your gifts to serve others? I really feel there is some sort of giftedness in how I relate with others. I usually get along well with people and can connect with them in some way or another. I love using this gift to reach out to others and being able to make them feel like they have a friend that cares for them.
I also feel that as obvious as it may seem, that teaching is a gift I use on a daily basis. I love seeing the light come on in a child’s eyes when they finally understand a tough concept in math or seeing their passion come out when they talk about something they love and get to share it with me. I still remember teachers I knew growing up that played a huge role in my life whether they knew it or not that helped me to be confident and identify things I enjoyed doing and learning about.
What would you do if you had nothing holding you back from your dreams? As a daydreamer, I often catch myself thinking about different career paths and how that would play out in my life. I used to think I wanted to be one of those Today Show hosts like Katie Couric who got to travel the world and interview some of the most fascinating people and hear their stories. I also think about how incredible it would be as possible dream to one day have a creative outlet that I could take on as a career such as photography, calligraphy and writing or something that incorporates all three! The creative dreams always intimidate because you become so vulnerable when you put yourself out there, and it’s truly your heart bare for all to see. But I like to think that is something I’d dig into someday.
I really enjoy getting to learn about how schools operate as well and the power that a principal and administration have in a school. To be an administrator one day would be a definite dream for me. I’m working towards getting my masters in the next couple years so I can potentially fulfill this dream.
Tell us about a season of suffering that lead to good things in your life. I wrestled with this question a bit because even though it seems sort of trivial, the most recent experience was this past Spring trying to hunt for a teaching job. I had moved to Dallas in the fall after not being able to get into the specific districts I’d set my eyes on and so I had decided to substitute in order to get my foot in the door. As a substitute, I was able to grow in my abilities as a teacher such as being flexible and able to manage a classroom I just walked into. But it was really tough personally to have those self-doubts and believing I wasn’t good enough to get in. I had to constantly remind myself to not compare to others who were around me that seemed to moving along in life while I was stuck in the waiting room. After getting my Texas certification and making connections I thought surely I’m a shoe-in now, and I still had to be patient and wait for the Lord’s timing. I realized through this season that I couldn’t “make it happen” without God and if it wasn’t with Him I didn’t want it anyway. At the beginning of June, I got called for an interview and by that time I had realized that God would provide for me in whatever way He saw fit that would bring Him glory and so I rested in that confidently. I was able to finally see that apart from him I was discouraged and defeated, and regardless of the circumstances he always deserves every ounce of my praise. I did get that job that I’d interviewed for and now going into this school year I feel so assured that it’s exactly where the Lord was waiting to place me.
Share your proudest moment. I would say my proudest moment had to be making the decision to move to Dallas and pursue my dreams in the “big city”. I only knew a handful of people down here after being in Oklahoma my whole life and really not a lot to go on. My parents were a huge piece of this dream in being able to support me and giving me the courage and the financial help to get here and start a life for myself. It seems simple but even going to buy a rug or a cutting knife for my apartment get me excited. I guess it’s a milestone for any 20-something, but I just felt a sense of accomplishment knowing I could step out into the world and continue pursuing the Lord and build a new community of friends. I have loved getting to explore Dallas and share my experiences on my blog to hopefully encourage others in seeing the beauty in taking a road less traveled.
I feel my purpose in life is to... continuously build authentic relationships with other people where we challenge one another to grow personally and spiritually throughout our whole lives.
To meet more Rubies, check out the rest of The Ruby Project!
All images via That's Pretty Ace