It might seem odd that an English teacher is the chairperson of the Theology Department, but Dr. Kathryn Jacobi said it actually makes perfect sense. When she was named chairperson a few years ago, there was not a theology teacher able to take on the role since several of the teachers were new. Dr. Jacobi has been able to help the department by offering advice with critical reading and lesson plans, common teaching approaches in both disciplines.
Taking on new roles and adapting to changes in curriculum and other areas are things Dr. Jacobi has become adept at after more than 25 years teaching at Providence. In the past few years, she has switched from teaching ACP English 12 to AP Language and AP Literature and Composition. Several years ago, she was the IGNITE chairperson to assist with the school moving to the anticipated move to the Common Core Standards.
She now teaches Honors English 9, English 12, and the two AP courses. As the English curriculum has moved to offering AP (which offers college credit when students pass a national year-end assessment) instead of ACP (which offers dual credit through Indiana University Bloomington) courses, Dr. Jacobi said the courses continue to challenge students to develop higher level learning, with the AP Literature & Language providing another AP offering for juniors to meet the Honors Diploma Standards, and AP Language will prepare seniors for writing in college.
“I like the challenge level I can bring to the kids” in AP courses,” Dr. Jacobi said. “”Our kids have so much potential. It’s always very gratifying to see them respond to higher level work.”
The AP courses involve more class discussion, and Dr. Jacobi said she continues to be intrigued by students’ responses to the literature.
“It’s interesting to hear them respond,” she said. “I like challenging them.”
Dr. Jacobi has seen many other changes in education since she first began teaching English in 1991. In recent years, the biggest change has been the introduction of the iPads. She said one drawback of the devices and ready access to information online is students’ using online information as a crutch rather than finding the answer themselves.
“They tend to think they can find the answers online,” she said. “The challenge is getting them to think for themselves.”
Another challenge is keeping students attentive. In the past, students would daydream or read a book instead of paying attention. Now, they are tempted to play games, use social media, or message each other on their devices, so classroom discipline has changed, and like many teachers, she has students put their phones in the back of the room. She also has learned to differentiate between students’ reading the literature on their iPad and being off task.
Dr. Jacobi continues to enjoy teaching at Providence. Since coming to Providence, she said, she has been committed to Catholic education because of the community, the higher standards to which students are held, and their shared Catholic faith. The size of the school allows her to know her fellow teachers, and over the years, watch their children grow up – and even teach some of them.
She has also taught a Medical Humanities class for a few semesters at IU Southeast and enjoyed the course’s focus on “illness narratives.” She said she enjoyed the class and might teach it again in the future. For now, she is enjoying gardening, walking in downtown Jeffersonville near her home, and traveling. She and her husband, Jerry ’73, are planning a trip to Kenya this summer. It will be their first time to Africa, and they are looking forward to it, she said.
Her favorite place to visit, however, is her birthplace, Cornwall, England, where they have visited several times.
“I just love St. Ives,” Dr. Jacobi said. “it’s just beautiful there. The Cornish coast is our favorite.”
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