Jessamine Griewahn-OkitaGrade 5 Teacher
At WES Since: 2023
What is your favorite quote?
It’s a tie between “Other people’s success is not your failure,” (Unknown) and “Don’t be afraid it won’t be perfect. The only thing to be afraid of really is that it won’t be,” from the musical Company by Stephen Sondheim. As a lover of all things theatre and Broadway, I’m always ready with a relevant show tune lyric or quote from a show.
Why did you become a teacher?
When I was in fourth grade, my teacher gave each of us an opportunity to teach the class. We were given a grammar topic to teach and time to plan the lesson. We had to present the information to the class and then help students as they completed workbook pages. The day I taught my lesson about proper adjectives was when I knew I wanted to be a teacher. I was always a bookworm who loved learning new things and memorizing facts, but other students called me a know-it-all. Teaching my peers showed me that being a source of knowledge could be a good thing and that the real fun was in figuring out how to pass that knowledge onto others.
I’m originally from the DC area, having lived in the same house in Arlington, Virginia until I went to college. I first went to Smith College, where I double-majored in Education & Child Study and Cognitive Psychology. I also did research in a linguistics lab that studied language development in children. After Smith, I went to Harvard Graduate School of Education for my Ed.M. in Mind, Brain, and Education. At both Smith and Harvard, I studied how the brain works and how neuroscience impacts teaching and learning. I began my career teaching fourth grade in Stafford County, Virginia and then moved back to Cambridge, Massachusetts where I taught a combined third- and fourth-grade class. Outside of the classroom, my interests include theatre (especially Broadway), comedy, and ballet. Come visit my classroom anytime to chat or listen to some showtunes! A fun fact is that my partner is a proud WES alum, and I’m thrilled to join the WES community myself.