This week The Columbian-Progress spotlights Jefferson Middle School teacher Melissa Jordan.
Q: When and where were you born?
A: I was born July 17, 1983 in Hattiesburg, Miss.
Q: Where did you attend school?
A: I was raised here, and I'm an alumni of Columbia High School.
Q: What led you to your profession?
A: Both of my parents (Baxter and Nina White) were educators. This actually used to be my mother's classroom! I was lucky to be raised by two phenomenal educators. I felt that I inherited some of those same qualities, and I felt that this would be the best way for me to use those gifts and talents.
Q: What do you enjoy most about your job?
A: I absolutely love working with students, and I also love working with my colleagues. JMS has some of the most amazing teachers, and if it weren't for having the opportunity to work with them, teaching would be really difficult. It's so nice to work with people who you know you can trust and know that they have your back.
Q: What is the most challenging aspect of your job?
A: Having to be prepared for change. It's very easy to find your own preferred way of doing things, but we have to be flexible and willing to accept change whenever it comes.
Q: What is the most important lesson you have learned in your career?
A: The most important lesson I've learned from teaching is that you have to love the students, no matter what. No matter where they're coming from, what they're good at or what they struggle with, you have to love them and build that relationship because you'll never be able to help them if you don't meet them where they are.
Q: When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A: When I was a child, I wasn't really sure. I knew I was good with kids, and I knew that I enjoyed being around children, but I wasn't necessarily sure that I wanted to be a teacher. Whenever I filled out my college application, it asked me what my major would be, I thought to myself, 'Well, I've seen my parents, who are phenomenal educators, and I've seen all the pros and cons, so I feel like this will be best for me.'
Q: What was your first job?
A: My first job was babysitting.
Q: Who is the person who has been most influential in your life?
A: Professionally, that would be my mother, Nina White. She's been an educator for a really long time, and she's my go-to source for help whenever I need advice about how to manage different situations. In my personal life, it's my husband, Will Jordan.
Q: What is your spouse’s name?
A: His name is Will Jordan. He's from Raymond, Miss. and he's an associate pastor at Bunker Hill Baptist Church.
Q: Do you have children?
A: We have three children, and they are all students here at Columbia. Marion is in fifth grade, Will Darcy is in third grade and Max, our youngest, is in first grade.
Q: If you could have anything for your last meal on earth, what would it be?
A: Nothing super specific, but it would have to be seafood, and it would have to have cheese and bacon. If there's an original concoction that involves all of those things, that's what I'd go with. You can't go wrong with those three things.
Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
A: I love to travel, and I've been blessed to be able to travel to lots of different places, but I have never been to the Mediterranean, so I would really love to go to somewhere like Monte Carlo or Greece. I'd also love to go to Asia.
Q: What hobbies do you like to do in your spare time?
A: I love to read, I love to watch my children participate in activities, and I make T-shirt quilts. It's kind of a little side hobby/business. People ask me to make them, and I really enjoy being able to help preserve special memories for people by making those.
Q: What do you enjoy about Columbia and Marion County?
A: What I love most about Columbia is just having the opportunity as an alumni to give back to this community. I was so blessed to have incredible people guide me throughout life, whether it was at church or in the school system, and they really helped make me who I am today. The fact that I get the opportunity to work here in this same community and give back just means everything to me.
Q: If you could have lunch with anyone from your life or history, who would it be and why?
A: It would be hard to choose just one. I would want to spend a whole day with different people because there are so many different things I'd like to learn. But I would love to have a meal with Jane Austin, my favorite author. I'd love to hear about what inspired her to create the characters that she did, particularly in "Pride and Prejudice," which is my favorite novel.
Q: What moment in your life has had the biggest impact on who you are today?
A: I would have to go with the day that I became a Christian. That was the most significant because, at that moment, I knew how I wanted to live my life and who I wanted to represent with the choices that I make in life.
Q: What is one thing you want to do that you’ve never tried?
A: I would really love to go surfing in Hawaii someday.
Q: Using one word for each, what are your top three defining characteristics?
A: I would hope that hard-working would be first. I hope that loyal would be mentioned, and I'd also hope that people would say I'm honest.
Q: How would you like to be remembered?
A: I'd love to be remembered as a Christian woman who loved Columbia, loved her job and loved her
— By Brad Crowe