A perfect storm
Brittany Jones (M.T. ’16) combines two loves: history and teaching
When she was a student in Richmond Public Schools, Brittany Jones (M.T. ’16) assumed that all of her classmates had parents who made them do their homework. Her parents sure did. Both of her parents were teachers who placed a high value on education.
Jones herself was a history buff. As a child, she dreamed of being a history professor, so it’s no surprise that she majored in history as an undergraduate student at Longwood University. She loved it so much that she decided to pursue her master’s degree in American and African-American history at VCU.
To make ends meet, she got a job at a local school, tutoring students in history.
“That’s when I realized how much I enjoy working with kids,” she recalled. “I got more and more interested in becoming a teacher, in having my own classroom and having my own set of kids.”
One of her master’s classes was historical consciousness, taught by Dr. Gabriel Reich in the School of Education. Knowing her interest in teaching, Dr. Reich suggested that Jones look into the school’s Richmond Teacher Residency program. Unfortunately, no history positions were open at that time.
"Exposing my students to a larger world is my goal, and VCU and the School of Education have played a big role in helping me do that.”
A year later, Jones received an email from Dr. Reich.
“There was one spot open for a history teacher in the Residency, and Dr. Reich said I should definitely apply. I looked into the expedited program and found that it was catered to urban education, which I was interested in, having gone to Richmond Public Schools,” she said. Jones was accepted into the program.
“It was a perfect storm. Thanks to Dr. Reich, everything fell into place.”
Jones found that she liked the Residency program because it extended the normal six-week residency out to an entire year.
“I was able to experience what it’s like to be a teacher from Day 1 of the school year all the way up to the last day of school. I got to see all the ups and downs, which was extremely valuable. Since it’s an expedited program, you also earn your master’s degree in one year,” she said.
“Above all else, it primarily appealed to me because it’s specifically designed for urban education, and it produces teachers for high needs schools, who will serve long term.”
Today, Jones teaches World History I and Government to freshmen and seniors at John Marshall High School in Richmond. She recently took her students on a field trip to Monument Avenue. They talked about the controversy surrounding the monuments and the impact that public monuments in general have on our collective memories of the Civil War and Emancipation.
“It’s interesting to me that our [John Marshall] students go to school about 10 minutes from Monument Avenue, yet some of them have never even been there,” she said. “It’s one of the things I enjoy most about teaching – exposing students to new things, opening their minds to a larger world.”
“Exposing my students to a larger world is my goal, and VCU and the School of Education have played a big role in helping me do that.”