Stepping into first full-time role, Rider graduate fulfills lifelong dream of teaching

Daishanae Kemp-Jackson ’17 has been teaching first grade since February
Adam Grybowski

Daishanae Kemp-Jackson ’17 treats her classroom of students like family.

That attitude was born out of her early experiences of being tasked as a young girl looking after her even younger cousins. Even then, she knew she wanted to become a teacher. “I love interacting with young children and believe they are sponges for learning about the world, and I love helping them learn,” she says.

As an undergraduate, Kemp-Jackson student-taught at Lawrence Brook Elementary School in the East Brunswick school district. After the elementary education and psychology double major finished her coursework in December (graduating magna cum laude), she was offered a temporary full-time position teaching first grade at Frost Elementary School.

She remembers looking ahead to her first day in February and being extremely nervous. “I was not only starting with a brand new class, I was starting a brand new career,” she says. Commuting 35 minutes from her hometown of Neptune, New Jersey, Kemp-Jackson made sure to leave extra early to avoid traffic and arrive on time. Despite such precautions, her first week proved hectic as she strove to apply the lessons from her education and experience as a student-teacher in her new role. But, she says, “Once I got to know my students more and got into a rhythm, it didn’t feel like work at all.”

In addition to her bachelor's, Kemp-Jackson earned a certificate from Rider’s English as a Second Language (ESL) Endorsement Program, which trains educators to be sensitive to the cultural, sociological, linguistic and psychological diversities that ESL students bring with them to school. She is also sensitive because of her personal experience. Growing up, Kemp-Jackson says she became accustomed to people consistently mispronouncing her first name, and she makes sure she doesn’t repeat that cardinal sin with the children she teaches.

“I love different cultures, and I know how important it is when developing relationships that, whatever the names of my students are, to pronounce them correctly,” she says.

The potential of developing relationships was a particular draw when Kemp-Jackson began looking at colleges and identified Rider as a small, tight-knit community.

“When I heard about Rider being a great school for teachers, I came to visit and loved the community and how small it was and that professors could get to know you personally,” she says. “I’m very family oriented and like that kind of support.”

Now, Kemp-Jackson is creating a similar community in her own classroom. Nearing the end of the school year, she says, “We all take care of each other like a family, and I get so excited to see that take hold and spread.”