Anna: Today we are talking with Jaclyn Pace, a certified Montessori teacher and founder of DiversiTeach, an educational organization focused on celebrating diversity, promoting sustainability and fostering community here in southern Utah. So lets jump right in. First off, thank you Jaclyn for talking with us today.
Jaclyn: Thanks for having me.
Anna: Yeah, you bet.
Kat: Okay, so full disclosure, Jaclyn is one of my very good friends. Okay, so give us some of your background on your journey and what got you here today.
Jaclyn: So I am from New York originally and I have kind of lived all over the place, I lived in Alaska, in Washington State, in Arizona, California ... and, when I was pregnant with my son, I just really felt the need to settle down somewhere and put down roots.
I have some family here in St. George. So, this seemed like a perfect place to do that. So I have been here for about three and a half years. As far as education, I have been working in education for almost two decades now, which is crazy
because I don't feel like I am that old, but I went to college for journalism originally and then realized that education was kind of calling me. So I switched to education and really, once I started learning about like pedagogy and theories of education, I got really interested in alternative styles of education, because I was brought up with a really traditional style and did not really know that there were other options out there. So, so I went to a really progressive school in New York City called The New School. It was Eugene Lang College which was the liberal arts college.
I was really kind of enveloped in these progressive thinkers, like Paulo Freire and Myles Horton and Bell Hooks who talked about education for social change, or education as a way to to change things in society that maybe need to be shifted with the times. So once I found that, I just kind of like lit up and was really excited about pursuing that
avenue of education. So I left with my Bachelors in Education Studies with an emphasis on pedagogy, which is actually like philosophies of education, so when I graduated I really was not prepared to teach. I knew a lot about theories of education, but I did not really know how to teach, how to be in a classroom, which I found was really different than the way teachers are trained. Teachers are actually not trained in pedagogy or philosophy or theories of education. They are just trained in practices mostly, so it was a benefit to me, because I really had a different introduction to what, you know, what teaching is and what education is. But then I had to learn how to actually teach by being in a classroom. I kind of jumped around, I did a lot of after school programs. It was difficult to get certified because the program I was in was not like a track program. You know, it was more of a theories program. So I was not certified and I kind of worked in after school programs, and summer camps, and things like that, which was great, because they are a lot more free and you have a lot more freedom to just explore different topics that you do not get in traditional school situations, but ultimately I found a job at a Montessori School in Camp Verde, Arizona. That was really my
first introduction to Montessori and they sent me to Montessori training back in New York, which was really cool. But it was a really rigorous program and I ended up getting credentialed in Montessori and then ultimately got my k-8 state certification. So I kind of did a backwards approach to becoming a teacher, but I think that really shaped my views on education in the way that I teach.
Anna: Well, as you said you originally started your schooling and journalism. Was there an experience that you had that made you switch to education?
Feeling Called Towards Education
Jaclyn: It was really just that I did not know what exactly journalists do. I wanted to write for Rolling Stone and I thought I would hang out with musicians and learn their life stories and then write about it. I went to Penn State originally before I transferred to the new school. And I was on the the newspaper there and I just was like writing
stories about things that I just was not interested in because that is what happens when you are first breaking into the field. I think what really triggered my change in thought about what I wanted to do after college. Penn State is a pretty traditional school and so it was the same style of education that high school was for me, which, I mean, I wouldn't say I excelled at... I did well at, but I was not really motivated because it It did not speak to me. I just knew how to write papers and do my homework and passed tests. And I always made the honor roll and did well, but I could do more. I just was not motivated to do more because I was not inspired to do more. And so when I went to college and kind of had that same experience... I thought college was going to be different... and I thought I was going to go there and just be really inspired and blossom. It ended up feeling like the same thing. I thought 'oh I am going to class, but I am not really able to interact with professors and peers as much as I thought I would be able to. I am
writing papers and taking tests.' That was really the same kind of thing as high school was. And so I really reevaluated what I wanted out of education, and I ended up taking a break for about a year and I found The New School, which is a really incredible school and it has a really different style of education where it is really dialogic small classes and it is all about dialogue between students and teachers. So my classes were like 10 to 15 students, sometimes would meet at professors's houses.
Really, what I was missing was that sense of community which kind of brings it all back to what I am trying to do with DiversiTeach, which is building community, because I felt like in high school, elementary school, at Penn State, my early college experiences... were really lacking community. It felt like there were all these people in this place just filling certain roles and they were not able to really collaborate with each other and they were not able to reach their full potential because there were just so many limitations. But when I switched to the New School, it was it was so different and that was really inspiring and that is when I decided to focus on education, because I felt like wow, a lot of kids are going through the same thing that I went through where they are able to make it work with the traditional style of education but it is kind of limiting.
Kat: I think there is something very interesting what you said about being in open dialogue, like there is something so much more tangible and attainable when you are being heard, but you are also addressing your beliefs. I know so many kids I used to work with, not in an educational setting, but I used to work with them as their supervisor. They were always under 18 and it was so interesting when I talked about stuff to them. I would be like, I know that you are learning this in school… and they did not retain any of it and had no emotional connection to it, had no idea what I was talking about and it was because, they are just taught to memorize facts and spit them out
Jaclyn: Yeah, they are not engaging.
Kat: Yeah and if you can apply it to yourself and really question your beliefs or question what you are being taught in a safe space, I think that is the kind of education I would like to see, so I think that is really interesting.
Jaclyn: And that is my goal as an educator is to create community in an
educational setting. You need to create a space where people feel safe, where they feel like they can trust each other, where there are not really rigid roles that everybody plays. So, in Montessori the teachers are considered guides and so, the teacher has more knowledge than the kids do, but not all of the knowledge. Nobody, has all of the knowledge. Their role is to guide the kids and to see what they are interested in and help them explore those things. So once I found Montessori, it really was in line with kind of the my own educational theories that I was trying to develop as a, you know, as a new teacher, I think it was really fate that I fell into being offered a job at a Montessori school because I did not know much about Montessori, and when I went to the training, all of a sudden like this light bulb went off, like this is it... this is how kids need to learn. They need to be able to explore and really discover... Montessori is really about discovering knowledge. Not just the banking style of education where the teacher holds the knowledge and it is their job to just deposit it into the students. That's really what traditional education is. Montessori education is more about the teacher being a guide and trying to help kids discover things on their own.
Kat: And that is supposed to give them like a passion for learning right? And so as they grow up and there are things they are interested in, they will be inspired to learn about it on their own, right?
Jaclyn: Yeah, conventional education really is like standards-driven or knowledge-driven, where Montessori education is more child-driven. It is about intrinsic motivation where they see how exciting it is to learn and so they want to become lifelong learners. It is not about here is the information you need and I am going to make you learn it.
Anna: I am listening to a podcast that goes into the whole history of Waldorf education. And their whole idea is the child is the curriculum. You base everything on the kid! I have never been to public school, so I have nothing to compare it to, but I remember growing up, I had a lot of friends who went to a traditional school and I
would always ask them 'what are you learning? What do you want to do when you grow up? Who do you want to be' and they would be like, 'Uh ... I don't know!"
Kat: In talking with both of you, it is so interesting to me because I grew up in Montana and that was not an option... like there is no Waldorf... Montessori was not a thing. So for me to learn something, I feel like I need to get in the class. I need to
find somebody and learn it this way. And then also, when I was
growing up, you had five job options, like lawyer, medicine... nobody told me like that there were all of these other job options. When I talk to somebody who does something really cool they almost always have had this experience with Waldorf or Montessori or their parents were encouraging this lifelong learning thing, and they found and made their own career. And I think that is really cool.
Discussing History of Educational Methods
Anna: Yeah. I was going to ask you, do you know the history of Maria Montessori and
when she came up with this philosophy of education?
Jaclyn: I do not remember the exact dates. (EDITORS NOTE: Maria opened her first school in 1906, she was born in 1870). I know she was Italian and she worked specifically in the slums, with kids who they basically called idiot children. They were kids from poor, working class families and they were basically deemed not capable of learning. They were not from the like upper crust of society, which is higher
quality education has always more available to the upper echelons of society. And so, at this time, and I can not remember the exact dates, but she studied a lot of child development and believed that every child can learn. And so she did a lot of
observation of the kids and really figured out ways to help them succeed. And so it started out with kids that maybe did struggle a little bit, maybe had learning disabilities or... it was an earlier time, so it was before we had these kind of diagnosis and things... but she, she worked with these kids and really helped them succeed. And so ultimately then her method was transferred to, you know, to other classes of kids. And it, and it worked for everybody. So it has really been something that has been around for quite a long time and has been growing all over the world because it has proven to work with all different types of kids
Anna: It almost makes you wonder why traditional education has not been shifted by all these more unconventional, non-traditional models, because they have been proven to work. It makes me wonder why that has not infiltrated the system... I mean every kid could benefit.
Kat: Do you want the conspiracy theory? If you have the population that only learns what you want them to learn and you can control the message why change it, why would you actively promote that?
Jaclyn: I mean, education, especially in the United States, really came about during the industrial era where they needed workers and so education was to prepare children for factory work. So that is why they have the bell system, that is why there is one teacher because there is one person who is in charge of a floor and assembly line. It really was to get kids prepared for working in factories and it has not changed a whole lot since then, but it just needs to because times are different now.
Anna: I know a lot of public school teachers and you guys are amazing, if any of you are listening, so this is not anything negative about about you.
Kat: Totally not! But I know tons of public school teachers that will tell you the same. They are over the standardized testing. They will tell you it does not work and they are exhausted and they are not supported. Yeah, like there is something wrong. I think that is one of the big things in America right now, on top of everything else, is just the educational system. I think that that is on the forefront of everyones mind, like our teachers are not being paid enough. You can not categorize a kids success by a standardized test. But back to you Jaclyn!
Indications from Childhood and Future Plans for DiversiTEACH
Kat: Do you think looking back on your childhood, there was an indication that you would be doing this today, like teaching a kids program, or starting your own program?
Jaclyn: Its funny because I never really thought I wanted to be a teacher. But I do
specifically remember playing school with my brother and sister and I was always the teacher. So when I look back I am like, oh, I do not know why I did not ever think I wanted to be a teacher but I definitely played teacher... like I would make my sister sit in a desk and do assignments and she is 5 years younger than me... they were definitely not on her level (laughing) ... but I had a card catalog system for my personal library that I like put this little teddy bear stamp on.
Kat: like check out books to yourself?
Jaclyn: Well, I would check them out to my brother and sister.
Kat: That is the cutest thing I have ever heard!
Jaclyn: I did not realize that that was going to inform what I would do as a vocation when I got older. I just I wanted to be a writer for the longest time. So that is kind of where my sights were set. But thinking back there are signs that maybe I was going to end up working in education.
Anna: Is writing your own curriculum something that you would be interested in doing,
since you like to write?
Jaclyn: Yeah, and I do still write. I mean, I am trying to develop a program now that I can take into the schools here in St. George to do this diversity and sustainability work. I do
write curriculum every week for the market, partly because it just helps me stay on task and ultimately I do want to have that available. There are different sites for teachers like Teachers Pay Teachers and Patreon, where you can put content out, that other
people can have access to for really low-cost or no-cost. So I do want to do more of that but that is really time consuming.
Anna: Oh, I am sure! Thats why they usually cost a lot because it takes a lot of time and
effort to put all that together.
Jaclyn: But that is a goal for DiversiTeach is to actually create curriculum that then other people can use, either lesson by lesson... like this is just an activity you can do in your class or like an actual whole curriculum for a specific group of lessons.
Kat: I know that you have talked in the past too, of having it available, or some type of training for professional settings.
Jaclyn: After teaching in a classroom for about five years full-time in a couple different
Montessori schools in Arizona, I realized that I really wanted to do this like social justice, diversity, sustainability work, and so I went to grad school and I got a Masters in Sustainable Communities with an emphasis in on justice education. I thought I was going to do a thesis and a research project on kids working on these kind of issues like I had done in my classrooms, but I ended up really getting involved with pre-service teachers. So teachers who are in school to become teachers. Since my own background
and education was non-traditional, I came at it through the pedagogy avenue instead of through like the practices and how to actually be a classroom teacher. So I was really kind of in awe of how teachers are trained because I did not really know how teachers are trained. I was not trained that way. I really loved working with with the adult student. So they were still kind of kids... they were 18 to like 22 year old. And I loved working with them because I saw a need for doing that kind of work that I had been doing with the kids, with the people who are going to be working with
kids. So, I did not realize that that was where that was going to go, but it kind of fell in my lap and I worked with a teacher preparation program at Northern Arizona University where I got my masters and I just made some really great connections. I had some great mentors there, and was given that opportunity to work with those young students who are now teachers. I still am in touch with a lot of them and I see them, now
that they are graduated, in their classrooms. I did a six-week action
research project where I really delved into issues of social justice, diversity, and sustainability with... I think there were 12 of the pre-service teachers to try and find out like what was driving their own theories of education, and their own practices and the ones that I worked with have sent me messages that like that really informed the things they do in their classrooms. And so I did think about that after grad school that maybe that is the avenue I should go. And so I have been over the last few years since grad school about 5 years now, I have been trying to figure out what to do next. I did go back to teaching in the classroom for a year after I got my masters, and I just was so unfulfilled by that because my mind had been expanded so much on what I could do in the field of social justice education, and thats where my passion was ignited. Even in a Montessori School your role as a teacher is defined and all of the diversity and sustainability education work I was doing in the classrooms as a full-time classroom teacher were add-ons. It was not the curriculum, and I realized that I really needed that, to do that for myself. So that is how DiversiTeach kind of came about, is over these last few years figuring out how do I stay in the field of education and do
what I am passionate about. So I am doing the program with the kids at the farmers markets, but then also I do want to be able to do trainings for local teachers, maybe for a local businesses, you know, about why diversity and sustainability are really essential to a healthy, robust community.
Kat: But what does sustainability mean to you and why is it so important?
Jaclyn: Sustainability is really about meeting our needs now, without sacrificing the ability of future generations to meet their needs. It is really multi-faceted and it has economic, social, and environmental factors to it. So, definitely, sustainability has that kind of environmental like buzz to it but it is a deeper kind of concept.
The social sustainability is about having resources available to the people in a community to help them succeed. So, access to education, access to jobs that have a living wage, access to affordable housing ... those kind of things are part of social sustainability. And then also having arts-based things available because the arts are so important to people, to peoples happiness and their ability to be creative beings themselves.
Kat: That is one of the main reasons too, why at the farmers market we have gone so above and beyond to keep it free. Jaclyn was like, this needs to be accessible for everybody so that we can have this community sustainability.
Jaclyn: Right, yeah, because when I approached a few people with this idea, I had
a few business mentors who are like, okay, this is a really marketable thing, lets turn this into a money-making thing, and that is not my goal. I mean, of course, I need to survive, so I need to at least make enough to survive myself. But I really feel like this these kind of programs need to be available and accessible in public places, so the farmer;s market is perfect because people are coming there for other other purposes, but theres a program there that they can benefit from for their kids. And also I talk to probably as many parents and adults while I am doing those programs at the market as I do kids, because they are all interested and they want to know more. But, yeah, having access to these kind of programs in public spaces is really important and thats
a part of what sustainability, social sustainability, is is access to these kind of things. And then the environmental aspect, I try to always use sustainable materials, using things
that are recyclable, using natural things. Tying into the economic piece, using sustainable materials also is economically more... makes more sense, because then you are not spending money on things. You're using things that are being thrown away or things that are going to go into recycling plants.
I buy a lot of things at thrift stores, because repurposing things is another form of environmental sustainability, but also economic sustainability because you're spending a lot less money. It is cheaper to buy used things than it is brand new things. But it is also more environmentally friendly to do that. Every week, people come back and say like, 'oh you taught us how to do make salt dough last week and
then my kid was obsessed with it. And now we have three pounds of salt dough at home' with just stuff that they had on hand. Or, 'my kids are rummaging through our recycling bins now for stuff that they can make things out of,' which is great! Because really, recycling should be kind of a last resort. There is so much single use, so much packaging, that we use one time and we throw it in the trash or in the recycling bin, a lot of which does not even end up getting recycled. So if we can reuse it, at least we're giving it more life and the kids have so much fun with it and there is so much benefit
Anna: Well, it totally changes the way you view stuff, like it completely changes the
consciousness... like even when I started getting into like zero waste and figuring out how to be creative and reuse things and... it changes the game, like you get so much more creative with things you would never have thought about before. I think in todays age, we have totally lost that. Like I think back to my my grandparents and great-grandparents, they grew up doing that, like don't you dare throw anything away! And then today, we just toss it in the trash.
Jaclyn: A lot of times we do that out of necessity, not out of choice, but it is important to make that choice, you know. I mean, we do not start to react to things that are hurting us like in our environment until it is a necessity.
Anna: Like we are the ultimate procrastinators?
Jaclyn: Yeah, like okay California is on fire, maybe we need to do something about this rather than like, lets do something beforehand, so it doesn't get to that point, you know. So, like last week, we made art out of like egg shells, sand, and coconut husks. The kids loved it. They were excited to be able to use things that they see around them or that they even view as maybe trash and then use them to make art. Whereas a lot of people think they need these bright shiny things and they do not necessarily
want or need that, they really react well to learning that things can be used in different ways.
Anna: Well one thing that I have kind of wandered is, in today's society we just
consume and throw away, consume and throw away... I have wondered how that affects us personally, especially kids. Like they see something is broken, it gets thrown away. I just wonder what that does to the psychological aspect of how we view ourselves. Like, if we're broken, if we are not perfect, we just get tossed away. We're not worthy if we are not perfect, beautiful, clean and new. I have often wondered that, especially, I mean
with the rate of consumption and how that affects our psychology.
Jaclyn: Yeah, that's a good point. If we focus more on fixing things that are broken rather than discarding them, that might have a big shift.
Anna: Right, like the Japanese method where they mend things with gold, and so like the cracks and stuff become part of the beauty, and I just, I can't imagine how much that would impact the psychological nature of a society. It's okay to be broken, we will fix you with gold.
Jaclyn: Yeah, we can fix it.
Kat: Yeah, I think it is called shashiko. I could be wrong, but it also applies to the mending. They used to just mend their kimonos like over and over, especially the fishermen, and so they would put all these visible mendings on it and by the end of it, these kimonos are worth thousands of dollars, just because of the embroidery.
Jaclyn: Yeah and they're like a physical piece of history.
Kat: Yeah, and then a history of textiles too, because it just shows the change in production and the colors they were using. I love the way that you explain sustainability. So how would you define diversity and why is that
Discussing Why Diversity is Important
Jaclyn: So, diversity is really about celebrating each others uniqueness... that each person is unique, everybody has a different perspective. And it really focuses on different aspects of individuals, like, race, class, gender, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, political beliefs. We are all amalgamations of these things, these pieces of ourselves. So, diversity is really about recognizing that, that everybody is unique, nobody is the same, even if they look the same, even if they had similar upbringings, they still are different people because they have had different experiences. And because of that they have different perspectives, and I think that is really valuable for societies to be creative and innovative, because if
everybody is coming at some problem that we have as a community or a
societal environmental problem, everybody has the same perspective, or the only people who are invited to the table to solve this problem have the same perspective, their viewpoints are limited. They all have the same perspective, so therefore what they could come up with as a creative solution is going to be stifled because there is not more diversity at the table, and that is why it is so important to have diversity at the table. So, not only for for the whole community to be able to
have that problem solving power, but also for individuals to feel like they are welcome in their community, to feel like they are a part of the community and that their voices are valuable, their voices are being heard, that they have equal opportunity for success. So, it is important on an individual level, but also on a larger level.
Kat: So its like opening that dialogue.
Jaclyn: Yeah, whose voices are being heard? Whose voices are being valued? And its important that, not just the teachers are not the only one who have the the
knowledge, the students have knowledge too and thats part of why I love teaching, is because I am always learning. I am a perpetual learner myself, and just kind of a nerd
and I love to learn new things and kids have such a different perspective than adults have. So, I love that every time I am in, you know, an educational setting, even as a teacher where I am supposed to be the one guiding the kids, I am still learning from them. They have different perspectives. I always come in with a plan for, you know, how we are going to do a certain activity or project and inevitably, you know, the kids are like, 'oh no, this is how we are doing it,' and I am like that is so much better, and I did not think of that, like when we made jewelry with the bicycle collective, and I just brought all the stuff and I told the kids we are making jewelry out of up-cycled bicycle parts, and the first kid that came was like, 'I sm going to make a super hero bracelet' and then every kid for the rest of the three hours did the same. So really diversity is about valuing other people's perspectives and voices and really just their existence.
Discussing Community and Collaboration
Anna: Yeah, I think that is really important! Well, then, what does a true local community look like and what is needed to create that?
Jaclyn: So, a local community I think is really about building those connections. I mean
community ultimately is about relationships. So, having relationships with your neighbors, with people who live in your vicinity. So, whether it is shopping locally, or, you are going to local schools, it is really about interacting and engaging with people who are in your area who are close to you. I think to make a community really vibrant and robust you really need to have those aspects of diversity and sustainability.
This is something I really struggled with in grad school because the program I was in was called sustainable communities. So I was really prepared to learn about what is a sustainable community and how do you create one? And one thing that came up was, not all communities are are even ones that should be sustained because they are not ones that are benefiting everybody, and communities can be dysfunctional, and they can be things that need to be dismantled and then kind of reimagined and rebuilt. But the way that happens is collaboration with people and so that is something that I really strive for with DiversiTeach is not just working in a vacuum and thinking like, I have these ideas and this is what I am going to do, but reaching out to other organizations, other people who are doing work in the community that we can collaborate on something. Because by collaborating you then have these two
different or maybe similar ideas, but all of a sudden putting them together it just grows
exponentially. There is more creative power by collaborating with people.
Kat: And you brought in a lot of people from the community. It was so funny like, I remember at the beginning you were not sure how to find diversity in the community. But people were just coming out of the woodwork. Why don't you just name a few of the people and the organizations that you worked with?
Jaclyn: Yeah. So, I mean, I just started by reaching out to everybody I knew, and I just kind of started searching local organizations and seeing who would be willing to collaborate. So we worked with Saint George Bicycle Collective, the Dixie LGBTQ Teen Alliance, The Pride of Southern Utah, the Dinosaur Discovery site.
Anna: You've done stuff with DSU too, right?
Jaclyn: Yeah, Dixie State University's STEM outreach program. So they do like science,
technology, engineering and math education. I also reached out to friends that are, you know, musicians and artists in the community. So, Joy Elaine from the Desert Nomads Belly Dancing Collective, Amanda Barrack, who is a local musician... I have a friend who does henna ... Akira she came and did some henna. I reached out to another friend ... she had posted something about doing those eggs... cascarones, which are like chicken eggs that are filled with confetti and then glued over and they use them in celebration for Carnival. And so I just asked her to come so she was just a friend, Priscilla, that came and did that. So, I mean, I just think there is a lot of diversity here. There is a lot of people who just have their own kind of cultural celebrations that they do with their families, or maybe with other people in their communities, but that the rest of the community would love to to learn about. And it gives them recognition that, you know, the things that you celebrate and the things that you find important are valuable. And, if you want to share them... not everybody wants to share those things, but if they do want to share them, I love that we are able to give them a place to
How Much Work Goes Into The Program
Kat: That is awesome. So how much work do you think goes into running the program?
Jaclyn: A lot... I don't know how many hours, because its not really a job, its a passion project, I do not keep track of hours. But I know we run the three hour-long program
once a week, and then there is probably like an hour of set up, half an hour of tear down, besides the loading it into my car, loading it back out of my car, then back into my car and back into my garage, where I store all of the crafts and recyclable and natural materials I can find. The curriculum writing takes a few hours. I do a lot of like marketing, Social Media, stuff like creating the events and then sharing them, posting reminders about them, I do a weekly newsletter. Probably like 15-20 hours a week of work. I am doing a lot of fundraising work right now too, so every week kind of differs, but it is probably 15 or 20 hours a week of work, but then I also have three other jobs. And I am a single mom of a toddler. So, it is a lot of work, sometimes it feels like work because there is actual physical labor or actual like mental labor that goes into it but really I love all of it. Thats the difference between a vocation and a job, or, you know, working in your passion project. Utimately, my goal is to be able to
make this into my work so that I am not doing this on the side. I want this to be what I am doing and what I can sustain myself financially doing, because I love doing it. I do feel like there is a need, there has been a lot of positive feedback and a lot of support in the community. So, I think it is something that the community sees as a need as well. I am just trying to work on that, how to rectify that, like, that I should have a job that pays me and then I should have this thing I do on the side. I really feel like I can do both, and its just a matter of figuring that out, because it is not necessarily the way everybody does it, but, that is the beauty of thinking outside the box and trying to figure out like how you want to live your life and making that happen.
Kat: Right and it has made such a huge difference in the community. You're righ. Watching that tent and watching the people that come out of it week after week. Its just becomes part of so many families weekly schedule.
Jaclyn: There is always new people that are coming to the market but most of the time it is the same people that come every week. Some of the farmers and artisans kids are there every week and, you know, I know them by name and thats really cool. So even
though its something thats happening in in the public, its not a contained classroom. It still is a really community building space because there are a lot of the same people that come every week, and so the kids get to know each other, the parents get to know each other. So that has been really cool.
Anna: You just started like the toy library, right? Because my son got a kick out of that. I mean, jeez he played with those trains for like 30 minutes!
Jaclyn: I think thats one reason why Kat and I wanted to have a childrens program at the market was because we both have young kids and we wanted it to be a family-friendly space, in a space that was inviting to kids, so that people did not feel like they couldnt come because they had kids and theres nothing for them to do. So, now theres an art project every week and toys for them to play with and, you know, other kids for them to interact with. You know, that is an issue just in society in general. Like, if you have kids, theres not a space for your kids. Its difficult to go to a restaurant with kids,
because the way adults interact in the world is very different than the way kids interact in the world. Kids want to explore, they want they don't want to be contained and sit at a table or, you know, they want to be able to run around and touch things and and that s not really generally acceptable in adult spaces. So I think its really important to have these spaces that are directed at kids and that they're able to get messy and experience and be invited. I love seeing kids running around the market and that they feel comfortable there and they know that there is a space for them.
Kat: Yeah, its weird that we have this expectation that kids should just be able to control
themselves in all these new environments, when most adults can't control themselves.
Jaclyn: And also that our kids do question things, right? You know, I mean, we fight against that with our kids because we are like, "just do what I say, you're making things more difficult" but really what kind of person are they going to grow up to be then? They're going to be that person who is like, 'wait a minute, I need to think outside of this box that you're trying to put me in and try to find more creative solutions or question things and make sure that I believe in what I am doing' Or, 'I agree with whatever information is being presented to me.' So even though its difficult for us as parents when they don't do what we want them to do, or act like little angels in public. Its actually a really good indicator of the kind of adult that they're going to become. I think those are positive qualities. I mean people who think outside of the box are people who are innovators, people who are, you know, who have created the things that like computers and, you know, technology and creative solutions.
Kat: Like Tesla! (laughing)
Jaclyn: Exactly! Those are, I mean, if you look at those people, those innovators, a lot of them were rebels a lot of them were kids that you know, you know, bended rules, or didn't follow the status quo, and they ended up becoming really influential people in society and being creating things that we rely on.
Anna: Or like Albert Einstein. Didn't he like flunk out of college or something, or was it high school? Theres a whole story there.
Kat: His teacher sent a note home to his mom, saying that he was ... he could not be in the class anymore because, yeah... he was stupid. He could not keep up with the class.
Jaclyn: I did hear that.
Kat: when he asked his mom what the note said she said 'oh, it just says that you're so smart that you can't stay in the class.' Yeah, and she kept him home, and like years later he found the note. His mom knew he was smart and he just did not conform to the system.
Jaclyn: Yeah. Yeah, and thats what traditional schooling is about. It's about conformity. It's about not breaking the rules. It's about listening to directions, following directions. But those aren't necessarily the type of adults that we need in society. We need creative thinkers. We need innovators. We need people who are kind of rebels... who do not conform.
Anna: Well, then, what's something that has been a surprise for you since you started DiversiTeach?
Jaclyn: I guess how consuming it is, because I am so passionate about it. I mean, I just like, I feel like I am just always thinking about what I can do to grow it and make it better or do I need to do this? I need to do that. I mean, my list of things to do just keeps growing and, like, I cross one thing off and I add three more. I know I am capable but there is always more. So, its not like things are just sitting there not getting done. I am checking things off. I know when I first became a teacher it was that way for me the first few years when I was getting my bearings as a classroom teacher and I just was so excited about the job. And, I mean, I remember my first principal came in one night, like the first few weeks of school, and it was like six o'clock and shes like, 'I am leaving, and you need to leave. You're going to burn yourself out... like you need to not be here every night, you know, as late as I am. Like, I'm running the school, I need to be here this late. You're a teacher, its important but like you are going to burn out' and the burnout right now is the three years, I think for new teachers. Its just so much, so much work.
But also I think because the people who become teachers are usually really passionate about education and working with kids and they want to do everything they can for them, and theres just so much to be done, you know. So I guess there was a little bit of a sign there from my first few years of teaching that this might be really as consuming as it is, but I had never... this is the first time I have done something on my own that you know, I just have complete creative control with and... which is great, but also like sometimes I need to bring myself in a little bit because I
can't do all the things.
Anna: Its probably hard when you have all these ideas and dreams to not like let it bleed over into your personal life. Like, is it hard to like draw boundaries and be like, this is time for this, and this is time for me? I have a struggle with that.
Jaclyn: I guess it is, because really a lot of my good friends are people that I either met at the market or that I work with, you know, because it all like... I think it all comes back to that sense of community. I think a lot of times we are taught, or we think that we need to compartmentalize these different parts of ourselves, but thats not really how humans work. We're just a mixture of things and all of these things are happening at the same time. So like, I'm friends with people that I work with, I plan for
the market with my son. So like, they're all overlapping and they're all happening
simultaneously. It is hard sometimes to be like, okay go to bed. Now. It's like you need to not be making lists at midnight every night of all the things that you want to do for DiversiTeach. But, at the same time, if I'm feeling inspired by it and it's not necessarily cutting into the time that I need to do other things, because I can hang out with friends and talk about it, or I can do projects with my son that would... so that's one reason why DiversiTeach is really amazing, for me personally, is that it's not something that I just compartmentalize and do only,
Kat: Yeah, and when it is your passion, it is your me time, you know, like if you got a couple hours to work on for yourself... again, that's your passion and its leading you to your dream. Like its not work thatstaking away from what you want to do or what
you want to build.
Jaclyn: Yeah. I mean I actually think about that quite a bit. Like, would it be easier to just have a job that I, you know, that I care about, but I just go to, like nine to five, everyday, theres my job and when its done its done. But thats not really me. Thats not who I've ever been. I mean, I really tie together passion and I guess financial survival, you know, thats why I became a teacher. I mean, teachers dont make very much money. I didn't go into it for the money. I did it because I was passionate about it. And I knew I could at least survive on the salary. For me, it's just difficult to separate those things. I don't think I would be happy doing a job that I just did and left at work. I don't think I would ever choose a job that I would just leave at work. I would still be thinking about it outside of work.
What Motivates and Inspires Jaclyn
Kat: What motivates you and inspires you to keep going forward?
Jaclyn: I think it's really the the engagement and reactions from the community members that I that I work with. I mean, being there every week and engaging with the students and their parents, and just seeing the kids create, and seeing them really engage with the projects that we're doing and the information thats being offered to them. And then how involved the parents are too is really motivating. And there's always like people who come by who don't have kids, and are curious about whats going on. And so all of that is really motivating that people are interested and theres also so much positive feedback, which is really cool. And its something thats different than when you're working in a classroom. A lot of times when you're working in a classroom, there's a lot of pushback because the kids, you know, they're there for eight hours a day or more, but in in this situation you're in a public place, the kids are there because
they want to be there, its an option. They don't have to do the program. They don't have to do the activity and its really cool to get all of this positive feedback because a lot of times as a teacher you don't get a lot of that, you know. You see it sometimes, but this is like, theres so much more than I ever have gotten before in just the short like three hour time period once a week getting all of this positive feedback. A lot of times as a teacher you feel like am I like, 'am I even doing this right? Am I being, you know, effective? Are they enjoying this?' Because you don't get all of
that every day.
Failures and Successes
Kat: Whats something you failed at? And what did you learn from it?
Jaclyn: I don't know if its a failure necessarily, but I am really not great about the whole financial aspect of figuring out like how to, you know, ask for money, how to get funding. I wouldn't say its necessarily a failure, but its something that I haven't overcome yet, or I haven't succeeded at yet. I try to look at failure
or look at difficulty as learning experiences and I just haven't mastered yet. It doesn't mean you're not going to, its a process, you know, so I definitely need to figure out that relationship with how to figure out the financial aspects. There are physical materials
that you can get donations of, or can be low cost, or like using the sustainable materials and stuff. But like my time, yeah, the 20 hours a week, but like my time is valuable.
I have a masters degree and I have all of these things that I've put my time into that should be worth something that should make my time valuable because it is, you know, time time is valuable. And so I do have a little bit of difficulty with that, with figuring out how to ask for money for this stuff and how to not feel bad about saying, 'hey I need to be paid for this, because even though its a need and even though its something thats really good for the community, I also need to survive.'
Kat: Right, and like a lot of people would immediately say to charge for the class but that goes against what we were talking about, making it available. You know, there are so many classes where even $5 a kid or two dollars a kid would make it economically unviable for that family, you know, especially here in Utah where you could have 10 kids, you know, like thats 50 bucks. Especially if you're a stay-at-home mom here, you're working on one salary. Southern Utah has one of the lowest paid wages in Utah. So, I mean, like $5.00 per kid, if you have to pay 10 bucks a week for the summer, it adds up fast.
Jaclyn: A lot of the people that come to the market use the like double up bucks and they're on food stamps and they come because they know they can get local food. But still, they're low-income. And so asking them to pay for things is, you know, I don't feel good about that. But, at the same time, I don't mind doing things for free, but I have gotten to that point it actually takes away from my ability to survive, and I like, I need to get child care every week to be able to be there. All the time that I'm putting in is taking away from other things that I could be doing to make money, and I would rather do this. So I'am really working on that, like melding figuring out the financial aspect and the being able to do the work that I'm passionate about and not feel bad about it.
Anna: Thats such a hard balance. I feel like thats the struggle that a lot of people have when it comes to stuff like that.
Kat: But I also feel like its a cultural thing too. Like, if you want to do something you should be able to afford to do it, you shouldn't ask for people to help you. Its not my job to help you. Its a very capitalist way of looking at it. But, you know, thats kind of what got us into the predicament we're in and why we need these programs, why we need non-profits to step in and fill this gap is because, you know, these people
in our community need help and they need connection and they need these opportunities to come together. So it is our responsibility to... but,its so against what we were raised to believe. So, I mean, you're going against social conditioning too.
Jaclyn: There was a TED talk about the difference between how we treat like non-profit
organizations and for-profit organizations, and it all came down to that. It was like, what you expect nonprofits or people who are doing work in the community, to do it for free because its what you want to do. Its your passion work. So you should do it for free and work twice as hard as somebody who is doing it for money, for a profit. And there were just a lot of things in that TED talk that we're really eye-opening. That's just a double standard, the way that we view business and, you know, for profit work and not-for-profit work and why are they so different? Why are they held to different standards? And why do we believe that a for-profit business, the more money you make the more valuable you are, the more successful you are. But in non-profit, if the CEO or somebody is making money, people are like, oh they shouldn' be making any
money. They should be doing that because they love to do it. You know. But, why can't we have both, why can't you make a living off of something but also be doing good?
Kat: Living in the non-profit world is definitely a big learning experience.
Anna: Well, then what would you say has been your biggest success and what have you learned from that?
Jaclyn: I think probably juggling.
Anna: ... literally juggling?!
Kat: Yeah. I was like, I thought you meant literally juggling and I was like, this changes our friendship.
Jaclyn: (laughing) you know, juggling like life, you know, juggling being a parent, juggling
working, juggling, you know, all the aspects of running a program and finding balance for myself to take care of myself. That's been a real struggle, especially since I became a mother. But just finding time for myself and realizing how important that is to every other aspect. It makes me a better parent when I am fulfilled, when I have had time to do things that are good for me. I mean, I wouldn't say its always balanced. Its really more of a juggling act than a balancing act, because things are usually not balanced. But figuring out how to fulfill all of these roles and needs in my community, and for myself.
Kat: I heard this quote, and I don't know who it was, but it was just like work-life balance is a joke. Shes like your life is not going to be balanced. Yeah, and she was like, at some point you're going to give more to this and then theres going to be seasons of your life where you step back and do this. Being your own business owner and actually watching you to step into DiversiTeach and create this in everything like that, its just been so interesting and so inspiring watching you find that line, and theres times where you can give more, and then theres times that you pull back, and its just been great watching you do that pretty much all on your own too.
Jaclyn: Well and you have to learn that, I mean, you know as a business owner you have to do that. I mean, I guess thats one of the great benefits of having your own business is that you sort of have that freedom to be like, hey, I need a week off and you're not going to get fired for it, you know. Because you are the boss. But sometimes you need to do that. You need... like think things just get too much and you need to step back, and its in
everybodys best interest for you to do that because if you just push through it, everythings going to suffer, your family is going to suffer, you're going to suffer and your business is going to suffer, so sometimes the best thing to do is to just take take a little bit of a break or take some me time, so you can regroup and be more effective
- What makes Utah special?
Utah is really an idyllic kind of place. I am an avid hiker, and adventurer, an explorer, and I don't think I have ever lived in a place that had more to do, its so vast. Theres just so much to explore here. Its such a beautiful place. And, its also really a place thats very ripe for for growth and change and Innovation and I'm just really excited to be able to be a part of that. I mean, I moved here to find a place to raise my son, to settle down and plant roots and I'm really glad that I that I chose Southern Utah because it really is a place that I feel like I've been able to build community and, you know, find
people that I really connect with and feel supported by. Theres been so much support here, especially in the female entrepreneurship circles that I've been in. Theres just so much support, people are so supportive of each other, always connecting each other, with other people that, you know, can kind of help them with their their passions or their visions. So I really love that about southern Utah.
-Whats been your favorite part about being a part of the farmers market community?
I really love how community-building it is, that its, a place where people
come for more than just shopping. I mean, of course they're coming there to buy their, you know, local vegetables and eggs and fruits and artisanal goods. So they are coming there for that. But Ithink they're coming there for more than that, because it is really a gathering place. It's a place where people come to see their friends, to see, you know, to meet the people who are growing their food or making, you know, the beautiful things that they are purchasing for themselves or their friends. They come for the education program. They know that theres a space for their kids there. So I really love, I mean, its really my favorite part of the week, is being at the market because is such a vibrant place to be. Theres so many different people, theres so much community-building going on there. And thats why I think farmers markets are really so important for a community, because it is a place that, you can go and you don't even
necessarily have to buy anything. People can come and, you know, listen to music or come to the education tent or just browse, you know, but also that they can consume things that are benefiting their local community. So they're putting their money back into their community, which is really really important. Every dollar you spend, sixty-seven cents of it stays in the community at the farmers market as opposed to like the five cents that you gain from every dollar at Walmart.
-Do you have a favorite book, publication, or social media account that you find inspirational or profound?
So, really my favorite educational resource... is called Teaching for Social Justice and Diversity and its by Adams, Bell and Griffin. And my thesis basically was based on that book and I would recommend it to to any teacher or anybody that is interested in working... I guess, I mean, it really is focused on teaching, but it
does do a really good job of explaining what what social justice and diversity education is and why they're necessary. So thats kind of my my number one, but I've been really influenced by Kevin Kumashira's Against Common Sense. That one talks a lot about what he calls common sense thinking, like things that we just don't question. So, its a lot about critical theory and critical educational theory. So thinking about why certain things don't work in schools, even though we think that they do or make sense that they would. And then Paulo Freire's Pedagogy of the Oppressed is a huge one. Miles Horton's We Made the Road by Walking, and Bell Hooks Teaching to Transgress are all books I read in undergrad actually, that I've come back to year after year and kind of have been reading the last like 15 years. They are really great resources, especially for teachers, but really for anybody who is interested in delving deeper into what education is and what the function of education is. And then as far as like social media accounts, I follow a lot of similar diversity sustainability educational organizations like the Zinn education project which was started by Howard Zinn who wrote A People's History of the United States. Thats a really awesome book about the true history of the United States, not like the textbook version that we all learned in school. But the Zinn education project, they have resources for teachers about current events as well as like historical events, like how to teach about like Martin Luther King Jr. Day. So
theres lesson plans about that stuff. And then theres Rethinking Schools. That;s another one thats great ... Teaching Tolerance, Teach for Change... those are all accounts that I follow.
- Why should people buy local food and support local farmers and makers?
Well, like we were talking about, 87 cents of your dollar stays in the community when
you spend it locally like at a farmers market, and that is so important for sustainability.
Economic sustainability is is huge for sustaining community and helping it be a vibrant robust place for the people that live there to thrive in. So its really important to support people locally that are doing things that you think are important. So like growing your food, thats important. We need food to live. So choosing healthy food, like locally grown foods that don't have pesticides and, you know, other really detrimental things in them is really important for our personal health and for our kids, you know. But also supporting people that are doing those things is really... I mean, money talks, you know, if you're spending your money on local organic or naturally grown foods, that shows that thats a need. It also cuts down on a lot of waste that is created for, you know, packaging and stuff. I mean, how many things do you open, and like keeping something contained so that it'll last longer on a shelf, you know, and it'll cut down a lot on all of that packaging and stuff. And, you know, a lot of like fruits and vegetables are meant to be eaten within a certain amount. If you can buy something thats sitting on a shelf and has been there for three months, but its, you know, a natural product, thats because its been sprayed with something or its got some kind of preservative added to it thats probably not great for you. So its really better for you for your health to eat those, you know, local foods, but its better for the environment as far as all the, you know, all the chemicals and preservatives that we use to preserve things and all the packaging.
- If our listeners want to learn more about you and all you're doing, where can they find you?
Well, they can find us on MoFACo website: MoFaCoUtah.com/diversiteach and then we're on Instagram. Its at diversi.teach, and then on Facebook we're at diversiteach.UT. We are pretty active on social media. So that would be a great place to follow. If you follow our accounts, then you'll get to know about all of the current events that are happening. We do hope to start branching out to the rest of the community too, so not just be at the market, but other public places like libraries or museums in town. So if you keep an eye on our social media account, then you will be able to see all of those. We also have a newsletter so you can send us an email and you'll be put on that newsletter list that gives more information about who we are and what we do and also current events and all that. So if you want to be added to our newsletter its firstname.lastname@example.org just send us a email and say about us and I will add you.
- Is there anything else that we didn't cover that you would like to share?
We are looking for funding to keep running our programs that the downtown farmers market in Ancestor Square is going to start in May. So we do need local sponsorship to make sure that we have the funding to run that. It runs from May to October if anybody is interested, or has any leads, or wants more information. MoFACo is offering a sponsorship package too, so you can contact us and sit and talk.
The music for this episode was created by Southern Utah local, Jake Shepherd