Jessica Cipicchio is a teacher whose optimism and dedication are hard to ignore. You’ll see her in her classroom before 7 each morning, and you’ll see her still in there when you leave for the night. You’ll be offered one of her prep periods to get help differentiating lesson plans and materials for a diverse class. And if you’re really lucky, you’ll be in her department and, she’ll give you cookies during meetings and presents around the holidays. All told, Ms. Cipicchio is a pretty good colleague to have on your team.
Cipicchio teaches in both the history and special education departments at Chicago Academy High School. She teaches a self-contained Thinking Like a Historian class and co-taught sections of Modern World History, World Studies, and U.S. History. Studying social sciences education in her undergrad, she has since acquired credentials in curriculum instruction, special education, and as a reading specialist. It is her second year at Chicago Academy High School, and she is bringing her enthusiasm into the school every day.
“Think of the fire that was in you the first time you walked into the classroom. That is what guides me on the most stressful days.”
When asked what inspires her, Cipicchio will tell you that her parents’ hard work and love throughout her life have lit the fire in her. They fostered in her a love for reading and learning and sacrificed plenty to offer their daughter what they never had. She was the first person in her family to graduate from college, and she and her family worked hard to make that happen. Not only does she understand the challenges many of her students face after high school, but she also sees the importance of her education in her everyday adult life. “I’ve seen firsthand the opportunities that an education can open up for a person,” says Cipicchio, “and I truly believe that education is what every student needs in order to succeed.”
Not that making the education happen is easy, either for students or teachers. Cipicchio knows that. She offers the following advice: “Since teaching is so many things- it is theory, but it’s also trial and error, and most of all, adaptation- we must become lifelong learners. Teaching is a profession that constantly changes and evolves and we have to move with those changes.”
Most importantly, Cipicchio asks that teachers remember what brought them into the classroom in the first place and to hold that close on the toughest days. “Think of the fire that was in you the first time you walked into the classroom. That is what guides me on the most stressful days.”