Jesica Herrera is an alumni of the San Augustine High School Wolfpack class of 2008. She graduated from Stephen F. Austin in 2012, and since then has completed her student teaching at San Augustine Middle School, and officially became a part of the SAISD staff in 2016. Mrs. Herrera is currently pursuing a Masters degree in Middle School Mathematics Instruction. To learn more about her journey, we asked her the following questions:
How would you compare your high school career to your college career?
My high school career was a breeze compared to college. I am a fast learner, so in high school I would not need to spend any time studying, and was able to graduate number one in my class. However, in my first semester of college, I quickly learned that that would no longer be the case. I had to adjust my study habits and prepare for exams weeks in advance to maintain the GPA I desired.
Were you involved in extracurricular activities as a high school/college student? If so, which ones? Which one was your favorite?
In high school, I was involved in the following activities: Band, DECA, National Honor Society, Key Club, Rodeo Club, Student Council, Spanish Club, UIL and Tennis. My favorite activity was band. At SFA, I was a Collegiate Middle Level Association officer during my Sophomore year up until my Senior year. I was also a School of Honors member.
What made you want to become a teacher?
I have always enjoyed helping others understand math. During my middle school and high school years, teachers would ask me to tutor my peers because it always seemed to prove effective. This is when I realized how much I loved teaching math.
What was the biggest challenge you faced when you first became a teacher?
Learning how to balance my time wisely. I was a wife and soon to be mother during my first year of teaching, and I had to find a healthy balance between my career and my family. I struggled to leave school on a daily basis if I felt that I wasn’t well prepared for my lessons. Now, a few years later, I can proudly say I have mastered this challenge.
What made you want to teach in San Augustine?
San Augustine has been my “home” ever since my family moved here from Mexico when I was 7 years old. I married my high school sweetheart who also had no interest in moving far from here. Since both his and my family live here, we decided to build our home in San Augustine.
Are there any teachers, from high school or college, that influenced you greatly?
Mrs. Whittlesey is a teacher who continues to positively influence me. She has been like a second mother to me, guiding me through several stages in my life. In college, there was this professor, Dr. Williams, who helped me during times of struggle during my years at SFA. I knew I could count on her to get through any hardships during my internships and student teaching.
What do you consider as your greatest achievement?
My greatest achievement is being able to graduate Valedictorian despite of being a newcomer. I was also the first in my family to attend college. I was very proud to be a role model for my youngest sibling who also received a college degree.
What is a life quote/saying that keeps you motivated?
“What comes easy won’t last long, and what lasts long won’t come easy.”
If you could give your students some advice that would stay with them for a long time, what would you tell them?
Always be true to yourself, no matter what your peers are doing. Don’t be afraid to take risks that you know will have positive changes in your life.
If you could tell the the past you and the future you something, what would you tell them?
I would tell the past Jesica to continue to soar high and to not be afraid to fail; to have more fun and not to be so strict with herself. To the future me, continue to dream and never lose passion for what you love to do. Do not cease your long term goals and continue to grow as a mom, wife, and teacher.
Is there anything you would like people to know about you, your life, your goals, your career path, etc.?
My passion for Math began when I moved here from Mexico and truly experienced it as a universal language. Although I could not communicate, I was still able to show my mathematical knowledge in class. I also realized that I enjoyed helping my peers understand math. I continue to enjoy sharing my love for math with my students year after year. My goal is to eventually teach math at a college level to future math teachers.
Article conducted by SAHS student Isabella Tuite.