Future teacher of the year
Helping students learn differently, in their own ways.
Getting hired as a third grade teacher at Paul J. Solis Elementary School.
Before ever setting foot on campus, Jumana Al-Bassisi knew she wanted to teach.
IIn high school, she volunteered for a local elementary school, worked one-on-one with special needs students and mentored Muslim youth across America.
But two years into her education degree at the University of Holy Cross, she had doubts that she could conquer her stage fright.
After real-world classroom prep and student teaching placements in classrooms at West Bank elementary schools, Jumana commands the classroom with confidence. She was selected as a highly effective educator by Jefferson Parish and landed a third grade teaching position.
Taking charge of the classroom
During her work study at Alice Harte Charter School, Jumana taught small groups of at-risk students from kindergarten through fourth grade. She focused on areas where they were struggling, like reading comprehension, to get them back on track.
While student teaching at Paul J. Solis Elementary School, Jumana’s mentor teacher had to leave for a few weeks due to a family illness. Jumana stepped up, created lesson plans and led the classroom like a pro.
Her innovative lesson plans used a tiny object—the butterfly—to tie together many subjects. “I compared and contrasted a butterfly and a moth, using a Venn diagram,” Jumana said. “For history, we talked about how they migrate. And for science, we talked about the life cycle of a butterfly.”
Ready for the classroom stage
Jumana was in her element the moment she started student teaching. “That’s when it became most real,” she said. “We actually had our foot in an actual classroom. But we were also still in college, so we got to talk about our experience and what we were going through.”
UHC’s student teaching sequence known as PLEP prepared her most. “In PLEP I, we’re required to teach a lesson for each subject without tying all subjects together. In PLEP II, we’re required to tie in all subjects together with one lesson. With student teaching, it was us handling the entire classroom on our own. It’s a step-by-step process that prepares us instead of just throwing us into it.”
Scoring high marks
During her student teaching at Solis, her principal observed her teaching lessons, and it paid off. The principal nominated Jumana as a highly effective educator for Jefferson Parish’s Early Decision Top Talent Teacher Cohort. Through the program, Jumana met with district principals who chose top talent for new teaching positions in the parish. Then she received a job offer to teach at Solis.
Understanding how others learn best
Jumana’s student teaching experience showed her how important it is to know your students individually, and to understand their personal strengths and struggles. “Not all students learn the same way,” Jumana said. “For some students, you can’t just tell them to take notes when they’re reading. I do a lot of anchor charts that show them how to answer questions or restate the question so that they can answer a question properly on a test.”
Professors who really care
UHC’s professors—all veteran teachers—share proven teaching strategies along with practical advice from their own careers. “One of my teachers shared a personal story about how a student was acting out and how she handled it,” Jumana said. “She opened my eyes to understanding that you have to connect with your students in your own classroom and know what they’re going through.”
3 Favorite courses
Professional Laboratory Experience Program
Learn how to prepare lessons for all subjects in a self-contained classroom.
Teacher Residency I
Go one step further and learn how to tie all subjects into one lesson.
Teacher Residency II
Handle an actual classroom on your own (with support).
Future CPAAll student stories