Katie Jefferies, Middle Grades Teacher

We’re profiling all of the teachers who make up our community of courageous learners, starting with our Middle Grades teachers.

Last week, we introduced Todd Wass, and this week, we’ve got Katie Jefferies! 

Katie is another member of the TCS Middle Grades team. She’s taught for 17 years with 11 of those years right here at TCS. Before TCS, she taught language arts at Druid Hills High School for 6 years, teaching mostly twelfth grade British Literature. After taking a year off to get her masters in Library Media, she became the TCS  librarian for nine years before moving to the Middle Grades classroom at the beginning of last year.

What skills do you hope middle graders will learn by the time they graduate from TCS? How are you preparing them to learn these skills?

The skills needed to be successful in our project-based learning units, like collaboration with a team, creativity to find surprising solutions to problems, and the confidence and persistence to follow through are exactly the sorts of skills I hope our students walk away with. In addition, the ability to clearly communicate ideas, both verbally and in writing, are essential to their future success. They learn these skills in language arts as well as through our project-based learning units.

What about teaching makes you excited to come to school every day?

I live for the small, positive moments I observe between students – a helping hand, a compliment on the basketball court, an invitation to sit together at lunch or play a game. I also love introducing a new writing or reading unit to students and getting them amped up for the learning that is coming their way!

Tell us about one of the most rewarding moments in your teaching career.

One of the most rewarding moments I’ve had in my career at TCS so far was presenting at the EdLeader21 and SAIS Conferences last month. It gave me a brand-new perspective on the amazing work we’ve done creating the Middle Grades program at TCS, and was a great reminder that we are leaders in our field and exemplifying what many schools wish they could provide for their students: a fully implemented immersive project-based learning curriculum and the support from the school community and administration to implement it.

Name a historical figure you’d like to meet.

Does Lila McDill count? She’s a historical figure to TCS! As the founder of the school, she had wonderful, groundbreaking ideas about the proper way to educate children, and I have discovered in my journey through the TCS archives that she had a real knack for assessing a child’s strengths after meeting them for only a short time. She passed away within the same month that I was hired at TCS, and I never got to meet her. I wish I could have had a conversation with her about her dreams for The Children’s School.

What is something none of your students know about you?

Some of my students know that I work with independent film and theatrical productions in my spare time, but they don’t know that the production I am working on currently is an OPERA performance! (No, I’m not an opera singer – I’m the stage manager!)