Her desire to become a teacher has been on the record since it somehow got mentioned in her eighth-grade yearbook, but it wasn’t until her senior year at Hamilton that Jesica Lindor ’12 committed to the career that she’d envisioned for herself way back when.
Now she’s a sixth-grade teacher at Bedford Stuyvesant New Beginnings Charter School in Brooklyn, where students are back in the classroom for the first time since the pandemic shuttered public education in much of the country early last spring. Lindor says her school has done a great job of keeping students and staff safe: procedures in place, masks, extra space for social distancing, air purifiers, hand-washing stations, hand sanitizer, the works. She’s grateful for that.
Students are glad to be back — mindful of the situation, conscious of their space, and the importance of maintaining a safe distance. “I know that the first day some of the kids were anxious, some of the kids were nervous, they didn't know what to expect. I think that some of the kids who are in school wanted to be in school because they just needed a break from their environment,” Lindor says.
Her path to Hamilton and the classroom traces back to an exchange she had when she was still a student at Frederick Douglas Academy in Harlem. A teacher there suggested that she consider applying to his alma mater. She did and Hamilton made sense for her, and Lindor enrolled. She majored in philosophy, spent a year studying in France, and entered the Teach for America program, cementing her interest in education.
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Even amid the challenge of a pandemic, Lindor loves her job. She loves its busy pace, the constant variety as the day unfolds, the joy and personality her students bring to the classroom. Six graders test limits, but they also take ownership of what they are learning, she says.
“My kids are resilient, they want to learn. And I feel like I learn a lot from them as well. I talk to them about things that I'm working on, and l they open up about things that they're working on,” Lindor observes.
She calls that “an exchange of joy and continuous learning.”