February Graider of the Month: Jacob Duty

Jacob Duty photo

Every day, The Graide Network is impressed by and deeply grateful for the hard work and dedication of our Graiders. But some Graiders truly wow us with their passion for teaching and the tremendous impact their feedback has on the students and teachers they work with. I’m pleased to say that Jacob Duty is one of those Graiders, and we are honored to name him February Graider of the Month.

As a sophomore at Ohio University, Jacob is majoring in Adolescent to Young Adult (AYA) Integrated Social Studies Education. When he graduates in 2019 (wow, I feel old!), Jacob hopes to teach high school history. Education, however, was not Jacob’s first major. He entered Ohio University planning to major in forensic science. During a chemistry class freshman year, everything changed. Jacob realized, quite clearly, that he did not like chemistry. In fact, he hated it. He finished the semester feeling utterly confused, as chemistry had been one of his favorite subjects in high school. The topics and concepts were familiar to him; what was causing this change of heart?

After some reflection, Jacob realized the difference was his teacher.  Mrs. Walley was Jacob’s high school chemistry teacher. Her passion, energy, and skill as an educator had such a tremendous impact on Jacob that she had been able to spark excitement and engagement in the sciences for 3 years, even when this was not his true calling. Jacob began thinking more closely about the tremendous role his teachers had players in his life. “I thought about all of the teachers who impacted me and I realized:

‘Wow! I could have that impact on other kids. This is what I want to do.”

And just like that, Jacob’s journey to becoming an educator began.

So why social studies? And why high school? “I chose secondary education because I wanted the chance to work with students just before they entered college or the workforce when they’re more mature and capable of building deeper relationships.” Jacob knew teaching science wasn’t for him, but he still wanted a challenge. He believes that being a history teacher will be just that. “History is a topic that a lot of kids aren’t interested in or excited by, but it’s important for every young adult to learn about history, government, civics, and how to get involved.” Today more than ever, this rings true.

This semester, Jacob is taking part in his first clinical experience as a pre-service teacher, observing a 10th-grade social studies teacher in Columbus, Ohio. Working in an urban school setting has been an eye-opening and rewarding experience for Jacob. He’s been fascinated by how his mentor teacher is able to “incorporate diversity in the classroom and use it to teach US history in a way that is relevant and highly engaging for the students.” One poignant memory that stuck with Jacob was observing another teacher at the school lead a discussion about the differences between patriotism, nationalism, and nativism. The teacher used excerpts from a  Frederick Douglass speech and applied Douglass’ ideas to current political sentiment in America. Jacob is excited that as a history teacher he will be able to do the same thing - “take lessons learned from history and make them readily applicable and relatable to students today - in a safe environment where learning is the focus.”

Jacob spent quite a bit of time searching for a remote, online program that would allow him to work with students, gain relevant professional experience, and make an immediate impact on K-12 education. We are glad he found The Graide Network! Jacob’s excellent work and deep care for student learning shines through in every assignment. Teachers have consistently praised him for providing specific feedback that is tailored to individual students’ needs, his ability to grade with a “spirit of generosity - something sophomores just beginning with AP courses need!”, and for always delivering feedback that is actionable, thorough, and clear - “nicely balancing student strengths with opportunities for growth.”

Congratulations, Jacob, on being February Graider of the Month!

Jacob’s words of wisdom for fellow Graiders? Communicate, communicate, communicate! It’s incredibly beneficial to reach out to the teacher for guidance and support - you can clarify the prompt or rubric, ask questions about specific student assignments, or simply introduce yourself. Maintaining communication with the teacher will set you up for success - helping to ensure that you are doing the best work for the students and having the greatest impact. (Plus, it’s a great way to build relationships with veteran teachers who can serve as mentors. Win-win!)