Relay Ambassador: Jasmine Barber
"My kids know Ms. Barber's #1 catch phrase - 'Get a book!'"
When Jasmine Barber was in elementary school, she didn’t love reading. Sure, she was good at it, but it felt a little forced on her. And then, one particular book came along: Lois Lowry’s The Giver.
“One thing that stood out to me, is the idea that there could be a world outside of the one we live in,” Barber says. “It’s also a great book to teach kids to love reading, to notice things like symbolism and literary devices. That book was a big stepping stone on my journey to become a teacher.”
Soon, she started getting in trouble for always having a book in class (maybe, when she was supposed to be doing something else…) And as an English major in college, Barber got more and more excited about how she would teach the literature she was reading. “I started to become obsessed with, ‘If I were a teacher, I would teach this book this way…’and that’s when teaching really became an option for me.”
Now, Barber is a 7th grade English Language Arts teacher at KIPP Nexus in Houston, Texas, and a 2022 graduate of Relay’s Master of Arts in Teaching - Teacher Residency program. She says:
“My Relay experience prepared me for real life teaching. It prepared me for building relationships with coworkers and students, how to plan for the whole picture, and how to balance teaching with my degree coursework.”
One of the best parts of her teacher residency was having the support of her advisor, Bailey Galbreath. “From the beginning, she was so welcoming that I was able to authentically tell her my strengths and what I wanted to work on, so we could talk about how she could give me feedback in ways that I could receive it,” Barber says. “She taught me all sides of teaching - building relationships with students, how to put together a lesson, and how to take care of yourself. I was able to trust that if I needed something, I could come to Bailey.”
Barber also received a lot of support from one of her professors and the director of the Relay Houston program, Mira Shah. “She took a big interest in me and was there for me throughout the whole two years,” Barber says.
And now, she’s looking to pay it forward - by becoming a Relay Resident Advisor. With just three years in the profession, she’s already building her teacher leadership skills. Next year, Barber will be the Department Chair for English Language Arts.
Of course, she’s also building relationships with her students - and their love of reading. “I love that they feel comfortable enough to tell me not just their academic needs but personal needs. I love to see previous year’s kids telling me, ‘Ms. Barber, we just learned about X thing this year, and I remember when you taught us about that.’ I love hearing about their accomplishments.”
And they love learning from her - so much so, that some students recently made a TikTok video - “What Does Ms. Barber Say?” Her number-one catch phrase: “Get a book!”
Thank you to Ms. Barber for being a Relay Brand Ambassador and for all of the amazing work you do for your students and community!