Teacher Feature: Jessica Huntsberger

Before the morning bell rings, students can be found milling around the language building, chatting as they follow the sweet scent of fresh crepes to Room 302. Escaping the morning chill, they step inside the class and are immediately greeted with a warm smile and an animated ‘Bonjour!’ The room emulates coziness; decorated with vibrant art, handwritten notes, cultural knick knacks and twinkle lights. Here, one cannot help but feel at home. However, this feeling would be utterly incomplete without the heart and dedication of the room’s caretaker — Jessica Huntsberger.

Huntsberger has been teaching French for 14 years, but as a student taking French classes, she never imagined that it could be her future career. However, fate took its course, and after years of other jobs and ventures across the globe like living in Brazil, Huntsberger found her true calling. And thank goodness she did.

Huntsberger definitely has a large fan base on campus. 

“Ms. Huntsberger has an incredibly good heart,” Principal Rob Coppo said. “She teaches for exactly all of the right reasons.”

Huntsberger has created diverse communities of acceptance in countless corners of campus. She advises a plethora of clubs, from The Frenchies, to Wellness Club and Chess Club. She also coaches the TPHS Varsity Academic Team, providing her unbridled support, even willing to suffer through immense agony every time the team answers a French spelling question incorrectly. No matter what role she is taking on, Huntsberger pours her heart into it.

“Ms. Huntsberger brings passion into everything she does, and makes you love what you are doing too,” long-time Academic Team member and Chess Club President Ron Tal (12) said. 

With an open and positive mindset, Huntsberger brightens the lives of everyone she knows. 

“Ms. Huntsberger has a great energy and is so upbeat,” Colin Cornforth, history teacher, said. 

Students of Huntsberger learn much more from her class than grammar or what French pastries are the tastiest. Huntsberger instills important values in her students like empathy and how to build long lasting relationships.

“I hope if my students take anything away from my class it is that people come first,” Huntsberger said. “Before we can be scholars, we have to be good humans.”

Students also cherish Huntsberger for her genuine desire to get to know them beyond the classroom. She remembers little things like a dog’s name, birthdays and embarrassing moments too.

Huntsberger is the kind of person that is there for people in every walk of life. When you get into your dream college, she is your biggest cheerleader. If you are struggling with something, she is the first to offer a tissue and a shoulder to cry on.  She has a sort of magical sense of intuition of knowing when something is wrong. 

“She always somehow knows if I am having a bad day and will drop off a spontaneous coffee or come up with something fun to do,” long-time friend and history teacher Lisa Tellers said.

Even in her curriculum, Huntsberger takes into account the struggles students may be facing. Huntsberger has introduced something she calls ‘The Wellness Circle,’ a monthly activity through which her students have the opportunity to share anything anonymously. 

Julia Hicks (11), French student and president of The Frenchies club, loves the Wellness Circle because of the way it brings her closer to both her classmates and Huntsberger.

“I think everyone in her class feels a deep connection with her and each other,” Hicks said. 

It is undoubtable that Huntsberger has had a profound impact on people all over TPHS. However, through helping others discover their path in life, she has also found hers.

“In college I learned about the Japanese concept of Omoi. It is the intersection between what you are good at, what you can provide and what you need,” Huntsberger said. “My Omoi is creating a sense of belonging, only not just for others, but also for myself.”

At TPHS, Huntsberger has uncovered her Omoi: her fate, destiny and true meaning.

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