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The Student Voice of Forest Hills Central

The Central Trend

The Student Voice of Forest Hills Central

The Central Trend

The Student Voice of Forest Hills Central

The Central Trend

New teacher Jessi Dykstra is filled with hope for the growth that is coming this year

Jessi Dykstra
A picture of Jessi Dykstra in her fun classroom

English teacher and Theatre director Jessi Dykstra knew she wanted to become a teacher in seventh grade.

Dykstra started off as a so-so student, not excelling in math or science. She didn’t believe in herself until her seventh-grade English teacher believed in her first. 

“I had a really good English teacher,” Dykstra said. “I wasn’t necessarily the best student; I did not think I was very smart because I struggled a lot with math. I took [my English teacher’s] class and she made me realize how much I really love English and that I am actually really good at it, and then, I finally felt competent because someone had made me feel like I could do something. I realized in that seventh-grade classroom that I wanted to do that for someone else because it is really important. And then, I never lost the idea of being a teacher.” 

While her seventh-grade teacher is the one who began Dykstra’s love of English—and even though they are still friends today—it is her high school teacher that Dykstra tries to emulate whilst teaching. 

I don’t try to fake my personality, let myself ask goofy attendance questions, and I let myself be silly.

— Jessi Dykstra

Dykstra took away from her high school teacher that she should be down to earth and real with her students to forge better connections with them. 

“I just try to be real,” Dykstra said. “I don’t try to fake my personality, let myself ask goofy attendance questions, and let myself be silly. [I try to] talk to students like they are humans, not like I’m their teacher and they are [only] a student. [I let them know they can] talk about their personal lives and just have fun and be silly in [my] classroom.” 

Dykstra also believes in the importance of creativity in the classroom, which is taken from her years in theatre. She started her theatre journey in elementary school and never stopped. She did Odyssey of the Mind in middle school, tried out for all the plays in high school, and, during her college years, was an assistant director.

Theatre is a huge part of Dykstra’s life, and she was absolutely thrilled to see a job open up in the district she was hoping to work in for theatre and English, which combines both of her passions. She uses the lessons she learned from her theatre days in her classroom every day. 

“I would not be confident talking in front of people if I didn’t have a theatre background,” Dykstra said. “[I also use theatre when my students are] acting out scenes or reading plays, which students tend to dislike, but it is visually important. Something I found in theatre and when I read stories is that you have to make it engaging.”

Dykstra also believes theatre and English have one more important lesson in common. 

“[English and theatre] are all about telling stories,” Dykstra said. “And I think that the biggest thing is getting meaning from it and more importantly, your own personal meaning. I feel like we are so driven at school to find the right answer, but when you are watching a play or reading a book, what is it telling you? Or, what is it showing you about your own life? It’s a reflection. [English and theatre] are both reflections of humanity in the world, and they get you to question yourself, and that’s all that I can ask students to do because I think you grow the most when you question yourself.” 

Dykstra can’t wait to watch her students grow not only in their academics but as people as well. Dykstra hopes to impart her wisdom on growing to her students by sharing her own experiences. 

“Don’t be afraid to fail,” Dykstra said. “I was never very good at science or math all throughout high school, but I never gave up, and I did my best, and I wasn’t afraid to fail. I just hope [my students] know it’s okay to fail [because] that is how they grow.”

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About the Contributor
Addy Cousins
Addy Cousins, Editor-in-Chief
Addy is a senior, and this is her fourth and final year on The Central Trend. Addy's love for writing inspired her to join the school newspaper, and it has helped her love writing even more and she has found some of the greatest friendships through the class. Outside of writing, she spends her time watching TV and hanging out with her friends and family.   Her Favorite Book: The Secret History by Donna Tartt Her Comfort Movie: She's The Man Her Favorite Time: 1:23 Her Lucky Number: 7

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    Margaret PopeOct 9, 2023 at 1:49 pm

    Honestly, I agree. Miss Dykstra was my junior year English teacher and I’d say my life is forever changed because of her. I love how I could be open and honest in her class room and she would always be there to offer words of love and support. She helped me so much in things that aren’t English related, but just in life in general (She of course did an amazing job of teaching English, best English teacher I’ve ever had). She taught me that it’s okay to be myself regardless of what others think and to let the light of Christ shine through me no matter what. She was there for me through tragedy and the good. If I were to be asked the question “Who in your life has made the biggest impact on you?”, I would say Miss Dykstra, because she truly is the person to make the biggest impact on my life. I love you Miss Dykstra. And I’m not sure you’ll ever read this, but thank you.
    -Margaret Pope