Classroom Coming Together: Our Lady of Sorrows Teacher Sets Up for School Year

Tags: Currents Brooklyn, NY, Catholic Education, Faith, Family, Inspiration, Media, Queens, NY

By Jessica Easthope

Jessica Jerez knows how important the role of a teacher can be in a child’s life.

She’s a new mom and this year she designed her kindergarten classroom at Our Lady of Sorrows in Corona, Queens, to be a place where she would want her daughter to feel safe, happy and educated.

“This is my first year in this classroom,” Jerez said. “You come in new, you meet the students, you create a bond with them, you’re with them all day, more than they are at home, so for me making the classroom homey and setting the tone in September, it was important to me.”

Soon, 20 four- and five-year-olds will come here every day to learn, but Jerez said she wants her classroom to also be a second home, one she takes pride in and puts her all into.

“It’s important to invest in your classroom, they’re like my children,”Jerez said. “When I decorate the classroom and I look for supplies I try to find things that I know, having a daughter now, I would want my child in this classroom, how can I make this classroom beautiful and welcoming, so they feel comfortable.”

Setting up her classroom this year has been a family affair. For the last month Jerez has brought her husband, their baby, her sister, and sister in-law in to help make it shine.

“I’ve always been a visual learner and I know Jessica has a lot of visual stuff,” Fatima Rosales, Jerez’s sister-in-law, said. “And it’s going to help with the kids a lot.”

The walls, floor, library, and marker boards are all products of their hard work — and of Jerez’s hard-earned money. 

“Dollar Tree is my best friend,” Jerez said. “I like to go to garage sales, Facebook Marketplace, Amazon too, when they have deals, but I’m a couponer.”

“I’m always there to help her,” Kevin Rosales, Jerez’s husband, said. “She says ‘Oh, I want this, I want my classroom to be a safe haven for the kids,’” Rosales said. “Whatever it takes I’m always there to support her 100%.”

Not only does Jerez spend her own money on the decorations and colorful items you see in her classroom, but she also does it for learning resources. She said in a school like Our Lady of Sorrows, where 98% of students are undocumented immigrants who speak English as a second language, this can make a big difference. 

“My goals are having the students know their numbers 1 to 100 and getting their proficiency in reading, but every child learns differently,” Jerez said. “If I can get one child who wasn’t able to write their name at the beginning of the year, writing their name, I’ll be happy.”

Jerez’s favorite part of her classroom isn’t the most colorful or the biggest but the most meaningful.

“I get these books to teach kids about Jesus at their level,” Jerez said.

She knows no matter what challenges lie ahead she has her faith to guide her, and she’s looking forward to a great year in her new classroom.