KOKOMO, Ind. — More than 20 first graders gather on the rug at the front of their classroom, ready to begin their day at Western Primary School.
Near a bulletin board decorated with an owl theme, Angela Jakes leads the class morning meeting. Children use bundles of brightly colored drinking straws to demonstrate place value, and then update their weather outlook.
Finally, they practice storytelling with a “silly sequence,” starring classmate Alyssa, waving their hands frantically for Jakes to call on them to contribute to the tale, showing their ability to construct one with a beginning, middle, and end.
Jakes, 44, completed her degree in elementary education from Indiana University Kokomo in December, following her final classroom assignment as a student teacher. She is grateful for the opportunity to achieve her goals.
“I want to teach and inspire children to be independent scholars, who have a lifelong love of learning,” Jakes said. “No matter what career I ultimately choose, my goal is to make a positive impact on the life of a child. During my time at IU Kokomo, I received an excellent education that prepared me for the world of teaching.”
She began working on a degree in sociology soon after graduating from high school. As newlyweds, she and her husband, Brian, decided it would be best for him to finish his degree first, and that she would go back later.
“Later just turned out to be 20 years later,” she said, adding that her family grew to include four children, two of whom are students and members of the cross country team at IU Kokomo.
Knowing that being a full-time student would impact their family, she asked her husband what he would think if she went back.
“The first thing he said was, ‘Why haven’t you done it before?’” Jakes said.
Support from her family, as well as classmates and instructors, helped her succeed.
“I didn’t know if I was going to be able to do it. The thought of failure scared me,” she said. “I’ve truly loved and relied on the familial atmosphere in the School of Education. I appreciated that I could reach out to my professor for clarity or assistance.”
She enjoyed being in school with her older sons, and shared resources and study tips with Brad, also an education major. He recently completed an early teaching experience in her classroom. While the first graders enjoyed having both Mrs. Jakes and Mr. Jakes as their teachers, he admitted it felt strange for him not to call her Mom.
“I’m proud of her,” Brad said. “She’s worked hard these last few years.”
Currently, Jakes is teaching at Edgelea Elementary, Lafayette, filling in for a teacher on maternity leave. She wants to find a teaching job in the Kokomo area before the 2016-2017 school year.
Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.