Jodi Knight was retired and said she enjoyed being available to take care of her young granddaughter. But the lure of the classroom was strong, and she returned to teaching sixth grade English Language Arts. “I just love sixth grade,” she gushed. Sixth grade, or middle school, is a point in children’s lives when they show signs of independence. “It’s funny; a change begins happening around springtime. Some put their foot in the water. Some dive in. Then they tell their parents they can do it themselves,” she explained. She says she relishes helping students organize their lives since middle school can be a rude awakening. It’s her 34th year with students, three at University View Academy
Mrs. Knight said returning to teaching, especially at an online school, wasn’t as big a hurdle as she expected since her training from UVA was excellent. “Everyone was so happy to help,” she offered. She said a lot of it was “… just technology I didn’t know about.” Mrs. Knight also said she relied on tips from Nora Miller, her first Supervising Teacher, when she began her Student Teaching experience. “She was wonderful. She touched so many lives of students and teachers,” she offered. One suggestion Mrs. Miller gave was to write down everything you think the kids will ask about and every word you’ll tell the kids. That’s what Mrs. Knight did for her first live sessions at UVA, and she said it was successful. She said she’s comfortable enough now but keeps a notebook handy.
Her students know Mrs. Knight is an avid runner and often ask her about it. She says she’s concentrating on destination races now in her 28th year of running. She’s done a half marathon in Hot Springs, Arkansas, and recently ran the Tiger 10K in Baton Rouge. It’s a remarkable feat since she contracted COVID-19 three months before. Early in her teaching career, she was involved in a Girls on the Run Chapter for six years. It’s a program that teaches life skills through group processing, running games, and workouts led by coaches. Participants choose and conduct a community service project. At each season’s conclusion, the girls complete a 5k running event as a group.
Mrs. Knight credits her fellow Middle School ELA Team Members for improving what she does at UVA. She said the team is comprised of a strong tech person complemented by one who is creative. Mrs. Knight said her role is an organizer. “We feed off each other,” she explained. The collaboration leads to questions like “How can I make this interesting” when the team discusses interacting with students during live sessions. “One of my reaching partners makes you feel like you’re in the room with them,” she marveled. The conclusion became simple, she explained. “You’re talking to these kids. Talk to them and add a little humor sometimes,” she offered.