For Jazminique Holley, becoming an educator was “the best decision ever made in [her] life.”
Ms. Holley has been a teacher for five years. After starting at KIPP, she joined Lift for Life Academy for the 2020-2021 school year – a year that has been a struggle for all educators through the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ms. Holley is passionate about teaching language arts, she said, “Because it allows you not just to touch their minds but touch their hearts.” Part of her impact is to come up with ways for students to have fun and create memorable experiences. Activities like lip sync battles are how they stay engaged in the class. She also likes to use data to show her students how they have grown throughout the year and realize the progress they’ve made.
Students receive a well-rounded education in her class. “Academics will open doors, but good character will keep them open,” says Ms. Holley. “You have to be a man or woman of integrity.”
Ms. Holley contributes her strength in character to her mother and grandfather who raised her. They helped her find her purpose. She is a proud alumni of Harris-Stowe University, after transferring from Howard University and entering the education field.
Many times this year when the St. Louis Post-Dispatch has awarded the Teacher of the Month honor, we have had to forego a ceremony due to social distancing or virtual learning. For the first time in months, the May Teacher of the Month was awarded in front of a class of adoring students – in a masked and socially distanced ceremony – with her family present. If her nominator’s words had not been enough, being in the room made it clear why she was chosen. The students clapped, whooped and cheered loudly at every compliment paid to her and rushed up to have their masked photo taken at her side.
Among the attendees and speakers was Ms. Holley’s mother, who said that her daughter’s award was “the best Mother’s Day gift she could ask for.”
A student nominated Ms. Holley, saying “she is the only teacher that had me happy to learn... Sometimes I will have the answer before she has finished asking the question, while in other classes I don’t even raise my hand.”
That praise was endearing to Ms. Holley to hear, especially from a student. “I can’t believe kids think enough of me to go outside the classroom to make sure I receive the recognition they feel I deserve. This award is so special to me because my students did it. They made it happen for me,” she said.
While it’s clear her students come away from her classroom with a positive experience, they aren’t the only ones. Ms. Holley says her “scholars” – as she calls them – always brighten her day. “Children have the purest souls on the planet. Each one of my scholars has a heart of gold,” she said.
That positivity has stayed true throughout the pandemic. Her students have grown to be strong and resilient despite the hard circumstances of the year. “I have seen more academic growth through a pandemic than I have in all of my years.”
As part of her award, Jazminique Holley will receive $250 gift card from Elco Chevrolet and a flower arrangement from Walter Knoll Florist.