Teacher Appreciation Week

As we continue to celebrate Teacher Appreciation Month and the educators in our Jumpstart community today and everyday, we’re excited to announce the winners of our Jumpstart Teachers Giveaway:

Congratulations to Quayisha, Julie, Bryenna, Angela, and Jessica! Our lucky five winners will be receiving a curated collection of books and a gift card. Thanks to all who entered or spread the word!

And thank you to all the incredible educators who support our nation’s children, especially in this uncertain time.


Jessica Cisneros (Jumpstart alum ‘05, ‘06)

The George Washington University

“In college I was studying political science and Latin America. I loved kids but had never seriously considered teaching. All of that changed when I became acquainted with Jumpstart my senior year at GWU. During the afternoons I spent with kids at Jumpstart, it was obvious that already at age 3 and 4 the children already had a lack of access that other children had. This disparity troubled me greatly. I ended up teaching high schoolers, then ultimately completed the Urban Teachers program to become a classroom teacher for K/1. Teaching right now is challenging. My focus is on continuing to nurture relationships and giving access to all kids, understanding that access might look different for different families. I take very seriously my responsibility to continue to provide a sense of routine, safety and learning with my students.”


Quayisha (Ferguson) Clarke

University of Connecticut 

“I became inspired to teach when I committed to two years of being a Jumpstart Corp Member and Team Leader. I always had a desire to be a part of children’s education but I always thought that would be through volunteering, these were the people who inspired me the most. I then realized that teachers are a top advocate for their students and are responsible for change by teaching as a way of social justice. I applied for my Masters of Education with Boston Teacher Residency, UMass Boston. Once accepted, I began my journey to become a teacher. I am now in my 6th year of teaching in Boston Public Schools, I teach 2nd grade. I am passionate about my work and strive to provide a quality public education for every child.


We all miss being in our classrooms, learning with each other and the passing of a smile in the hall. That same energy cannot be stimulated through a screen and that to me has been the biggest challenge. However, my students and I show up each and every day, still with a smile and continue to learn.

As educators we always have a lot to do and are following a thoughtful plan. However, our plan needs to be impacted minute-by-minute by our students. Slow down, and listen to them: what are they saying, what do they need from you right now? Breathe – you are not alone, call on your team for help, a smile and a listening ear are sometimes all it takes. Be yourself – you have something magnificent to offer, stand in your own purpose!”


Angela N. Smith (Jumpstart alum ‘06)

University of California, Irvine  

“Being a Corps Member was my first experience with teaching and–when I discovered how much of a difference I could make in the lives of children–it inspired me to dedicate my career to early childhood education. If you stay open to it, each day your children will teach you to appreciate the differences in every person, your teaching team will teach you new activities and techniques, and you will learn new research and ideas that will shape the way you think about childhood.”


Julie Soriano Veloz (Jumpstart alum, ‘14, ‘15)

University of Rhode Island

“What inspired me to become a teacher were the teachers I had in elementary schools. Growing up my first language was Spanish so school was pretty difficult. The teachers that I had in elementary schools made such an impact on me by pushing me to try my hardest and never letting me give up that I knew I wanted to pay it forward and impact other children.

This is my first year teaching, it has been the most amazing experience so far. I know I made the right career choice when on the first day of school I felt the happiest I’ve ever felt. Teaching to me is not only about education and impacting children but it’s about building relationships with my students. Right now, because of COVID-19, we are doing distance learning and it has been the most emotional experience for me. I miss greeting my students smiling faces every morning and getting asked questions during a read-aloud. It’s the small moments that I miss the most, the jokes, and the dance parties.”


Bryenna Best (Jumpstart alum ‘13, ‘14)

Southern Connecticut State University

My grandmother inspired me to become a teacher at a very early age.”

Together, we can help all children build the key language and literacy skills they need to take on the world.

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