Jarmeisha Gladney is currently a 7th grade English Language Arts teacher and 7th Grade Team Leader at The Soulsville Charter School (TSCS). This is her fifth year at TSCS. She is a Memphis native and life has come somewhat full circle as she is now working in the same community where she was raised, South Memphis. TSCS is literally just down the street from where she grew up.
After attending Bruce Elementary, Bellevue Junior High, and Central High School, Jarmeisha graduated from The University of Tennessee at Martin in 2015 with a degree in English and joined Teach for America the same year. Before coming to TSCS, she taught high school English for one year. The majority of her growth has been at TSCS, she says, teaching 7th Grade Writing before the transition to 7th Grade ELA, serving as department chair at one point, being 7th Grade Team Leader for the past two years, and being a second year mentor for Memphis Teaching Residency. She also attended Christian Brothers University earning her Master of Education in May 2020. She is now happy to still be in Memphis to continue her aspirations of becoming an educational leader/coach.
About being a MTR Mentor
“As soon as I became a teacher, I knew that I always wanted to be involved in school leadership, particularly coaching and helping teachers with content,” Jarmeisha says. “I always saw myself as a helper and creative so I always sought opportunities to collaborate and coach other teachers on content informally while here at TSCS.”
In 2019, the middle school director, Thomas Upchurch, recommended that Jarmeisha apply to be a mentor for Memphis Teacher Residency. Initially, she didn’t get a resident for the 2019-2020 school year, so she saw that as her opportunity to go ahead and apply for graduate school at Christian Brothers University and deal with her teaching role changing in the upcoming school year due to the adoption of the LearnZillion curriculum. “With these new challenges on my plate, I accepted the fact that I wasn’t going to be a mentor, something that I did want badly. However, things changed.”
In September of 2019, Memphis Teacher Residency reached out to Jarmeisha to become a new mentor for one of their displaced residents. Though she was reluctant due to graduate school being on her plate and this new curriculum that she was trying to understand, she went ahead and accepted their offer and became a mentor. “I had to remember that it was something that I always wanted to do,” she says. “And as it turned out, being a mentor was both challenging and rewarding. The fact that I was a student (learning in graduate school & adopting a new curriculum) and teacher leader at that time granted me perspectives and a duality that I felt bettered my ability to mentor and coach. Being a MTR mentor made me a better leader for my team, so much more organized with all the things I had on my plate at the time, and more empathetic. It made me realize that plans can go out the window at any point, but you have to be ready for the challenges along the journey.”
When the pandemic hit the latter part of the 2019-2020 school year and the uncertainty of education in Memphis for the 2020-2021 year, Jarmeisha was more than willing to accept the challenge again when Memphis Teacher Residency assigned her to mentor a resident for this school year. With more and more uncertainties and amendments to the school year, she says she has learned to make the most of it and try to be the model of calmness and adaptability for my resident this school year. “With strategic planning and norms with my resident, Jeremy Griffin, online learning hasn’t been a dread. We might not know when we go back to school or when things will ever be ‘normal,’ but I remember not to harp on how things used to be and accept the new challenge of teaching and mentoring during virtual learning. Overall, my resident and I have been able to accept the everyday challenges and hold dear to us what we can control, which is the ability to plan and create a welcoming virtual learning environment for our kids.”
Jarmeisha’s work is so appreciated that she was recently recognized by Memphis Teacher Residency as Mentor and Resident of the Week. In recognizing her, MTR Coach Keena Eyster-Terrill wrote, “Ms. Gladney is a second year mentor and we are blessed to have her continue to mentor this year for MTR. She is incredibly thoughtful in her own planning and how she leads her classroom, and this has resulted in great growth for her residents. This year she has really made her online classroom special and inviting. Watching her and her resident teach together online is always funny, engaging, and entertaining. She really shows how good online learning can be.”