Making the Grade

Two teachers bring their 'A' game to the classroom.

Queen Creek Elementary School has a student population of 896 and will grow by an additional 100 by next year. As a result, the need for teachers is growing alongside a community that is booming. Therefore for the Ladies' issue, we wanted to celebrate the teachers that educate and see our kids each day. Principal Dawn Michaelson nominated Jessica Hill and Jessica Donovan as some of the teachers she describes as 'impactful'. 

Jessica Hill is a Mesa native who has been a teacher for nearly a decade but has been with Queen Creek for the last 7 years. She teaches 3rd grade now, but originally she was studying pre-med at school. Her family has a history of joining the medical profession but Mrs. Hill said she knew that what she really wanted to do was teach. 'I love my students and creating that community and watching them grow.' she said. Her classroom environment is all about 'being there for them' and providing a sense of family. 

Mrs. Hill still remembers what it was like to be a 3rd grader herself. She says she could be quiet and obedient, but at the same time she 'loved school, learning, my teachers, and friends.' Since having such warm memories it is no surprise then that she aims to recreate that for her students. Mrs. Hill is also an AVID site leader which stands for Advanced Via Individual Determination. The program seeks to prepare students for college, providing resources for teachers and more.

Skills for success are at the core of what Mrs. Hill hopes to impart to her students, both academically and personally. Above all she wants her young students to love learning, just as she did. 

Jessica Donovan's experience of school was shaped more by her own struggles with learning. Growing up in Chandler, she was diagnosed with a learning disability in 6th grade which made it difficult to retain and comprehend material she had just read. She was given effective study strategies and memorization exercises that she found so helpful that she implements them in her teaching. Having experienced this shift in 6th grade may be why Mrs. Donovan teaches at this age, and calls it 'my heart and soul'. 

Her classroom is styled more like a coffee shop with a sofa and mismatched chairs and she likes to start the day by 'greeting students at the door'. This is her first year at Queen Creek Elementary, having been a teacher for 5 years in all. She describes the community at Queen Creek as a 'Great school...it's like home.' That sense of unity is a theme as Mrs. Hill noted the 'small town feel' as well. 

Teaching is not always easy, both women are mothers, and the work-life balance can be a challenge. The fluid nature of the profession with changing standards and making up for the lost time due to Covid means that what these teachers take on can seem like a lot. Yet as Mrs. Donovan states, her greatest joy can be had in a single moment when a student finally understands a concept. 'They get so excited when it clicks.' she says. 

Principal Michaelson expresses gratitude for what these teachers have brought to the school, saying they have 'made great relationships with the students' and as a result, they have shown 'improvement both academically and socially'. Mrs. Hill and Mrs. Donovan have shown dedication and a passion for their students and their education that lays the foundation for a bright future for both these young scholars and for Queen Creek at large.

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