Jarrett Anderson was named the Peter J. Cressman Chair for Excellence in the Teaching of Classical and Modern Language during the end-of-year faculty/staff breakfast, which was held on Connor Quad on June 10, 2021. (SEE PHOTOS)
The Peter J. Cressman Chair for Excellence in the Teaching of Classical and Modern Language is awarded every three years to a current full-time member of the Lower, Middle or Upper School classics and modern language faculty. The selection is based on outstanding teaching ability in the target language and its culture, as well as the overall value of the faculty member to the Academy.
Anderson serves as the Middle School Modern and Classical Languages Head. He also teaches French and Mandarin.
Head of School Rich Schellhas 1760 presented Anderson with his chair. Head of Middle School Jonas Jeswald introduced Anderson:
The Peter J. Cressman Chair for Excellence in the Teaching of Classical and Modern Language is awarded every three years to a current full-time member of the Middle or Upper School classical or modern language department with at least three years of teaching experience at the Academy. I am standing in today for current Cressman Chair holder Carol Ayers 1760 who could not be here to award the Chair to the next recipient.
So, let’s talk about this recipient. It is not often that a school is lucky enough to find, and then hire, a dynamic and creative educator who teaches both Mandarin Chinese and French. Of course, we should have known when he nailed an interview teaching “on Zoom” from France seven years before Zoom was a thing, just how lucky we would be to find and hire him. That said, there is no way we could have completely anticipated the immediate impact he would have on both the Middle School language department and the entire Middle School community.
Numerous nominators raved about his abilities:
Need someone to teach French, Chinese, pick up an extra section, lead the Middle School language department, be a Diversity and Community Life coordinator, be a study group teacher, be an amazing advisor and confidant for students? He is your guy!
Said one. Another said:
He approaches every interaction with genuine empathy, sound judgement, and a sense of humor. He cares deeply about students’ interests, personal growth, and well-being.
And another said:
He is the definition of an ideal language teacher. His students laugh and joyfully learn their way through culture and language in what seems to be an endless array of creative, student-centered activities.
Want an example of those activities? Yet another nominator referenced a memorable lesson in which he taught food vocabulary by having the students guess the stains on clothing. Or how about the time he used photos of students’ own pets during a warm-up activity for the family and animal unit to help the lesson feel authentic?
As for me, in the letter I wrote after his level III comprehensive evaluation during the 2018-19 school year, I commended both the depth of his self-reflection and his comprehensive portfolio. I quickly came to believe that his journey, pedagogy, and work should be shared beyond the walls of GA.
One of the best parts of preparing a speech of this nature is that you get to dive into the resume and experience of the recipients. In this case, I was not surprised to learn that our next chair holder graduated Summa Cum Laude from Truman State, nor that he was a Graduate Associate Teaching Award nominee at The Ohio State University. What most stood out to me were the opening lines of his teaching statement, which read:
I have two rituals that I perform after each class that I teach, and both help me elevate the success of any given lesson: I ask myself what I have learned about my students as individuals during that class, evidence that they have used French for authentic, meaningful interaction; and I check myself in the mirror for stray chalk marks and sweat stains, evidence that I have given my students the energy and enthusiasm characteristic of my devoted language teaching.
Jarrett Anderson you are indeed a devoted language teacher. Thank you for pouring your heart and soul into everything you do in the classroom, in the hallways, during advisory & clubs, in your work as Department Head and DCLC, and on the court as coach. On behalf of current chair holder Carol Ayers, it is my honor and pleasure to declare you the next recipient of the Peter J. Cressman Chair for Excellence in the Teaching of Classical and Modern Language. Come up to the stage and have a seat! Congratulations, Jarrett!