Jessica Rash has been named the teacher of Year for the Milford Central Academy. She returned to Milford after graduation for observations and her student teaching experience. Attending Delaware Technical and Community College, she worked at an afterschool program called La Casita. Later, Rash attended Delaware State University (DSU) and taught multiple grades at Cross Christian Academy (CCS), a local private school. Once she graduated DSU, she taught second and forth grade at Campus Community School in Dover. At CCS, she helped begin their first parents teacher group and began gifting her students books each year. In 2017, a sixth grade English Language Arts position opened in Milford and Rash was excited to be hired.
“It has been an amazing opportunity to return to the district as a staff member,” Rash said.
The desire to become a teacher came from her love of her first grade teacher Ms. Fisher of Benjamin Banneker Elementary School. “I remember looking up at her and thinking, ‘She has the coolest job.’ After that, my dream was to be a teacher. Every year I had teachers inspire me to grow and strive to always be better than I was before. This is why I decided to teach,” said Rash. “I wanted to inspire students and be the champion in their corner.”
During her student teaching experience, she figured out what grade she really wanted to teach. Rash requested to student teach with her sixth grade math teacher, Mr. Mark Hatfield. “I had so much fun in his classroom and with the mentorship of so many teachers I realized that middle school was where I should teach,” she said.
For Rash, being named Teacher of the Year feels a little like a “dream I haven’t woken up from yet.” A huge honor to win and represent Milford Central Academy, she believes the real honor comes from the nominations. Five students nominated her and “their kind words and reflections on me as a teacher are an award I can never forget. They serve as a reminder of the teacher I aspire to always be – kind, respectful, and hard-working,” she said.
The favorite part about being a teacher for Rash is helping students see things in themselves that they could not see before. “This usually looks like a spark or ‘aha’ moment. I love seeing their faces when they learn something new academically, about themselves, or in some other area,” she said. “It’s amazing to see how they apply their new knowledge. While this is my favorite part, it can also be the most challenging. I believe all students can learn but they are each unique. They learn in different ways and different paces. This poses a challenge when designing lessons that meet the needs of all students.”
Rash wants the community to know that every student is important and that teachers, paraprofessionals, custodians, office administrators, coaches, and child nutrition workers all work to support students. “We are all teachers. Our community members are equally important to our students. They are unexpected teachers – attending school events, supporting fundraisers, supportive comments on social media, and more. When our students benefit, the entire community benefits. We want what is best for our students, their future, and the future of the Milford area.”
In the future, Rash wants to continue the annual book drive that she started last year and continue gifting books to as many students as possible. Her other goal is to continue growing as a teacher through professional development, other teachers and their experience and students. “I always tell my students that I am only human. As a human I make mistakes but always want to learn and grow to be my best,” she said. Her final goal is to inspire other teachers and help them continue to feel passionate about teaching. “I have always wanted to be a teacher and it is a job I truly enjoy every day.”
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