Jessye Gaines earns Teacher of the Year honor at Bob Jones
MADISON – Jessye Gaines said she owes her “Teacher of the Year” honor to Madison City Schools teachers that instructed her.
“Being their student was a masterclass in how to teach,” Gaines said.
While studying aerospace engineering at Auburn University, Gaines was a co-op student for U.S. Army AMRDEC throughout college. “After graduating, I felt called to teach but had no idea how I could make that happen,” she said. Luckily, former Bob Jones Principal Robby Parker hired Gaines to teach engineering and math.
“My first day teaching, I had zero experience. I didn’t go through ‘student-teaching’ and had no classroom observation hours. The only thing I knew to do was to mimic Madison City teachers who’d taught me,” Gaines said.
Fast forward … Gaines has taught for 10 years at Bob Jones. “I’ve genuinely loved every year. Having one foot in the engineering industry (with the internship program I run) and having one foot in education is a unique job position that could only exist in a few U.S. cities. I feel very blessed to work and give back to the school system that raised me,” she said.
This award is even more coveted because her colleagues voted. “I have a massive amount of respect and admiration for the teachers I work alongside,” Gaines said.
At Bob Jones, Gaines sponsors three GreenpowerUSA electric car racing teams and Society of Women Engineers club. She devotes time for building community partnerships with engineering firms for internship placement. Gaines teaches at First Baptist Church of Madison.
“My teaching philosophy is relevance, application and service. If we can communicate to students the ‘why’ behind the content, give them the opportunity to apply content outside the classroom, and remind our students that working hard to make the world a better place is our job as global citizens, students will be inspired to care about the content,” Gaines said.
During the schools’ closure, Gaines expected her Patriot Racing Team to be angry at missing races/trip and End-of-the-Year party. The team, founded by a senior, included Gaines in their GroupMe chat with inside jokes, memories and accomplishments. “I was very moved … I’ll continue to be l inspired by my students to remember the good, despite disappointment,” Gaines said.
Jessye’s husband, Luke Gaines, also graduated from Bob Jones. He works as an engineer for Shape Fidelity Inc. Their daughter Kay, 7, recently completed first grade at Madison Elementary School and is in STEM Club. Daughter Glenne, 5, has completed preschool at First Baptist Child Development Center.