Jessica McDonnell has been teaching English, Careers, and Creative Writing with OVS since 2016 and has helped more than 500 students earn OSSD credits in that time.
Scroll down to learn more about Ms. Donnell as we share our recent interview with her!
First off, where are you from and where did you grow up?
I live in Stouffville, but I grew up in Scarborough.
Where did you go for post-secondary and your teaching degree? What did you study/specialize in?
I completed both my B.Ed. and B.A. (Specialized Honours in History) at York University. I completed the Concurrent Education program, meaning that I worked on completing both degrees at the same time. I mainly studied English and History, with a focus on Canadian History.
Even though I am a teacher, I also love being a student. I have thought about going back to school to work on a Master’s Degree, and have also completed a number of additional learning and qualification courses for teachers, focusing on Guidance & Career Education and Special Education.
How long have you been teaching in total? How long have you taught with OVS?
I have been working in education as a teacher for 10 years, and this fall will mark 5 years with OVS!
When did you realize you wanted to become a teacher?
That would have been during my Grade 11 year of high school. From my own high school experience, the classes that students seemed to enjoy the most were ones where the teacher’s made the lessons fun and engaging, and I wanted to help make English and History more engaging and interesting!
Do you prefer teaching online or in a classroom? How do they compare?
Teaching online and in a classroom obviously have their differences, but I have thoroughly enjoyed the experience of teaching online! While I do miss the student interaction and class discussions that come with a more traditional classroom, I enjoy the flexibility that online learning provides many students.
Through my time at OVS, I have been able to see students thrive in our online environment without the added pressures of deadlines, and a specific timeline for each lesson or unit. I find students appreciate being able to take as long as they need on a concept or assignment, and I always encourage them to reach out to me for help along the way.
What are some of your favourite pastimes, aside from teaching?
I enjoy spending time with my family. My husband and I have two young children – a girl and a boy. My youngest is about to start Kindergarten in the fall. I also have two cats, one of which is a Siberian who acts like a dog! I also try to go horseback riding as much as possible in my free time.
What is the first thing you would do or buy if you won the lottery?
After purchasing a new house and car, which seem pretty standard and boring, I likely would buy a horse! Despite the fact that I’ve been riding for around 20 years, I have not yet been able to own my own horse.
If you couldn’t be a teacher, what career would you most like to have?
I would be interested in exploring a career in law. That was an area that always seemed interesting, and something that I’ve been told I would be good at.
As an English teacher, what is your favourite genre to read when you read for fun?
When reading for pleasure, I often gravitate towards fantasy or supernatural novels. A favourite author of mine is Kelley Armstrong, who is also a Canadian author!
What is your favourite TV show?
I’m not sure if I have a favourite, but watching TV is one of my favourite ways to decompress. Some current favourites are This is Us, Kim’s Convenience and Lupin. I also really enjoy musicals! I was so happy when I was finally able to watch Hamilton when it was released on Disney+. Some other favourites are The Producers, Les Mis and Wicked.
What’s one fun fact about you that your students might not expect?
I love Disney! My family travelled to Disney World in 2019, and we’re hoping to go to Disneyland one day as well.
What is one piece of advice you would like to share with your OVS students?
I encourage all students to take advantage of their teacher! Remember that there is still a real teacher behind these emails, and we all want to help you succeed. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you are stuck on a concept, need additional explanation or resources, or are just feeling frustrated and need to talk things through. The more communication that you have with us, the better. If you have a certain goal for the course, or want to improve a certain skill, let us know right from the beginning, and we are always happy to work with you to help you achieve your goals. If you are struggling with anything, school related or not, remember that we are always here to support you!
What Our Students Say About Ms. McDonnell:
Ms. McDonnell currently has a perfect 5-star rating, based on anonymous student feedback gathered at the end of each completed credit.
Her former students commonly describe her as “helpful”, “kind”, and “very knowledgeable”.
Here are a few examples of comments shared by her recent students:
I just wanted to say how happy I am to have learned so much and how grateful I am to have had a teacher so involved in my journey. – EWC4U Student, April 2021
Ms. McDonnell is one of the best teacher’s here! Honestly, she’s so kind and she definitely knows what she’s doing. Ms. McDonnell is super awesome and I really hope and pray that I get to be her student in grade 12! 🙂 – GLC2O Student, November 2020
Ms. McDonnell was really helpful and the course was overall excellent. I enjoyed my time learning new material. – ENG4U Student, December 2020