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Extraordinary Educator: Jordan Vail

Great communities have great schools. High Point Schools Partnership creates impactful connections between our schools and the wider community to ensure students and their families are supported and can reach their full potential in High Point schools.

Part of High Point Schools Partnerships’ mission is to improve the image of our schools through storytelling. Who better to tell the stories of High Point’s schools than the people experiencing it first-hand? In this series of articles, we will highlight our 2022 High Point Extraordinary Educators as we dive deeper into what keeps them motivated in the face of constant challenges.

2022 Extraordinary Educator: Jordan Vail

Jordan Vail started her teaching career at Florence Elementary School four years ago. She has felt at home since she walked in for her interview. Everyone accepted her as family and made her feel welcome immediately.

Vail goes on to say “I have had phenomenal mentors, teammates, and friends during my time at Florence. They have spent valuable time working with me while I was a beginning teacher. I never felt like I was alone. They cheered me on, picked me up when I stumbled, and provided me with learning opportunities to grow in the field.”

Chiyanna Young, the principal of Florence Elementary School, describes Mrs. Vail as someone who is “dedicated, a team player, and positive”.

According to Young, Mrs. Vail “has creative ideas to make her lessons fun and is a master at incorporating technology into her lessons.”

Mrs. Vail wants her students to know “I truly care for each one of them.”

She goes on to say “I spend hours of my time thinking of ways to better support them and make them feel successful and loved. Years from now, I know they will not remember the lessons I taught, the songs I sang, or maybe even the strategies I shared. However, they will remember how I made them feel when they walked into my classroom each morning.”

Q: What inspired you to become an educator?

A: For as long as I can remember, I wanted to be a teacher. I absolutely loved learning as a child. I was constantly playing school, practicing my handwriting, or burying my nose in a book. My mother was my biggest inspiration to begin thinking about pursuing an education. She always made whatever I was learning come alive. She made me want to understand new things, push through challenges and celebrate my successes. She also taught me grit, determination, and the selflessness through her actions, teaching, and language. Throughout my entire childhood, my mom always made me desire to be the best I could be at everything I tried; the best reader, scientist, dancer, basketball player, pianist, friend, and employee. I was so blessed to have my mother instill such a love for learning in me, and I strive each day to give that priceless gift to my students. 

Q: What’s your teaching/leadership style?

A: I enjoy having a flexible, comfortable atmosphere that allows students to work with their peers, engage with technology, grow through group discussion/critiques, and work with hands-on activities. I love finding ways to bring my students’ passions, hobbies, and interests into my lessons. We enjoy working with partners and teams throughout our day. This promotes friendship, understanding, and a sense of belonging in my classroom. I hold my students to high expectations concerning behavior and engagement in their lessons. I utilize positive behavior reinforcements to promote success and confidence. I work hard to teach them the value of effort, determination, and how to use their voice. I have also spent the last few years working diligently to integrate technology into my classroom in a purposeful way. My students and I have grown together in these skills and discovered ways to make learning magical! To me, the key to being a successful leader in the classroom, as well as in the school community is by supporting your team. I treat my class as a family and hold them accountable for treating their friends with respect. We support one another when we struggle, and celebrate our wins. We welcome mistakes as learning opportunities and work together as a team to find solutions to our problems. We use our voices to spread positivity, respectfully disagree, and share our discoveries. It is my goal to make my classroom a safe space for students to make mistakes, know their worth, and show kindness. 

Q: Do you have a classroom motto or philosophy you abide by? Why?

A: “Love first, teach second.” I am a firm believer in building personal relationships with each one of my students. A colleague of mine shared this quote with me by Theodore Roosevelt early on in my teaching career. “Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care.” Although a very popular quote, this has stuck with me and come to the forefront of my mind time and time again. Student growth and engagement are 100% top priorities for me. I spend hours learning my content, reflecting on my teaching strategies, and researching ways to grow and become a better educator. However, after the last four years of teaching, I have learned that there is no strategy as effective as building relationships and loving my students. Many of these kiddos are going through unimaginable difficulties; often struggles and battles that we cannot control. However, during their time each day in my classroom, it is my mission to ensure that each student feels important, valued, loved, and appreciated. I know that through strong relationships come, successful students 

Q: What’s your favorite part about every day?

A: The best part of each day is definitely my students; seeing their smiles, hearing their laughter, and watching them truly love to learn. My hope is that each one of my students finds a “spark” during their time with me; the beginning of a burning passion to learn and succeed. I love finding ways to engage with my students by utilizing things they love; whether it be music, art, dance, games, or hobbies. It is exciting to watch them find their love for learning and enjoy coming to school each day. My sincere desire is that my students carry their passion for learning, exploring, and discovering new things with them during the rest of their years as a student. It brings me great joy to have a small part in facilitating that love of learning, and I am honored to have that privilege.

Q: What’s your most memorable moment as an educator?

A: One of my most memorable moments was during the 2020-2021 school year. As we remember, this year began with remote learning. We as educators worked tirelessly to build classroom communities and establish strong relationships through virtual learning. This was a challenge for staff and students alike. It was difficult to feel connected with our families. We all did our very best. I remember having dance parties, doing virtual brain breaks, wearing crazy outfits, and hosting virtual parent conferences. I had small group time and fell in love with my scholars during those first few months. I will never forget having my classroom full of firsties again after many months of being online. Their excitement, desire to learn, and genuine happiness to be back in school with their friends and teachers were so contagious. I remember tearing up as I “met” them all and we sat together in our classroom for the first time. It was definitely an unprecedented and unforgettable experience. 

Q: Is there any other information you would like us to share with the community?

A: I want to thank my school and the High Point community for nominating me for this award. My school family from Florence Elementary supported me during my beginning years and have pushed me to rise to positions of leadership. I want to thank my mentor, Jami Adams, for her gifts of time, knowledge, patience, and friendship. I am so grateful to each of my students and families for supporting my classroom and trusting me with your sweet babies. I am looking forward to continuing to grow as a leader in my school and community and sharing my passion for teaching with many others.

Mrs. Vail is just one of High Point’s 2022 Extraordinary Educators. Tune in for the next few weeks to hear more stories and inspiring moments from our local teachers!

Thank you so much to Jordan Vail for your dedication to High Point’s students. Congratulations on being selected as your school’s 2022 Extraordinary Educator!

To find out more about High Point Schools Partnership and our work, please visit our Facebook page and check out our page on Guilford Education Alliance’s website.

Article written by High Point Schools Partnership Staff