Ensworth Grind

Today we have the privilege of introducing high school history teacher Tom Jackoboice! Check out what he had to say when we caught up with him last week.

Q: What is your favorite lesson in history to teach the students at EHS? What do you see the students getting the most excited about in History?

A: In my experience, what elevates a lesson from being good on paper to being exciting in practice is the life that the students breathe into it. Magic routinely happens around the Harkness table when a dozen individuals are willing to be inquirers and take positive risks. In the AP United States History Course, my favorite topics to explore with students include the American Revolution, the Civil Rights Movement, and whatever topic I’ve had a chance to read about on the most recent vacation; this past summer, I read Last Call by Daniel Okrent and, for a short time, I was tempted to develop a three-week unit on the rise and fall of prohibition. Last March, news of the “Arab Spring” captivated the attention of my 9th grade World Studies students. They had recently completed a unit about the French Revolution.  We considered the unrest in Egypt while exploring the premise that it is one thing for a people to become free and quite another for them to secure their liberties.

 Q: Tell is what inspired you to become a High School History Teacher.

A: As a child, I loved to listen to stories that my grandfather told about the places that he and my grandmother had visited. At first, I simply appreciated his ability to share his memories and transport us to those times and places. Later, I wanted to harness that ability. In school, I was fortunate to have many excellent teachers who also incorporated storytelling into their lessons. Two educators who instantly communicated a passion for their subject matter as well as for teaching were Frank Mikan who made an elective in modern physics one of the most enjoyable experiences of my high school career and Professor Reginald Archambault who I’m convinced could have taught Socrates a thing or two about the Socratic method in his courses on the philosophy of education. When I graduated from Brown University’s Undergraduate Teacher Education Program as a history major, I was open to teaching either high school or middle school and spent the first four years of my career as a middle school teacher in Massachusetts.

Q: You have only been at Ensworth a couple years, what were you doing previously? Are you from Nashville, if not, what brought you here?

A: I moved from Cambridge Massachusetts to Nashville in the summer of 2002 in order to complete a Masters in Curriculum and Instructional Leadership at Vanderbilt’s Peabody School. My plan had been to get that degree and then return to teach in Massachusetts, but plans changed when I met another graduate student who is now my wife, LeAnn. I decided to look for a job in Nashville and was hired to teach at Hunters Lane Comprehensive High School. I worked there from 2003-2009 and was honored to serve as the International Baccalaureate [IB] Diploma Programme coordinator and to teach several regular, honors, and IB classes at that school. Meanwhile, LeAnn completed her studies at Peabody and was hired to work as a first grade teacher at Red Gables. She kept telling me about the amazing new high school that Ensworth was building out in Bellevue and persuaded me to attend an open house. I am SO glad that I did!

Q: Tell the Ensworth community something that they wouldn’t know about you.

A: Some members of the EHS history department were under the impression that, if I was hired, I would provide baked goods on a regular basis. This tale is apocryphal.

Q: If you could only visit one more place during your lifetime, where would that be and why?

A: Wherever Stevie Wonder is going sounds alright with me. Have you ever seen Stevie Wonder in a bad mood?

Q: Who is the next person from the Red Gables campus you would like to see featured?

A: Hope Moeller


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