December Featured Educator – Jessica Lazarus

image Jessica LazarusDed·i·cat·ed /ˈdedəˌkādəd/ adjective (of a person) devoted to a task or purpose; having single-minded loyalty or integrity. This is the definition of one who is committed wholeheartedly to whatever they set out to do. In education, a dedicated teacher can make such an impact on students and colleagues alike. Jessica Lazarus, our Featured Educator for December, fits this definition to a tee. A lifelong learner, Jessica is constantly engaged in professional development to perfect her craft. As a digital arts teacher, Jessica has revolutionized the curriculum offerings of Pembroke High School. Courses that were once only offered in college design schools are now integrated into the curriculum at PHS. Offerings such as Multimedia Design for Web & App Design, Intro to 3D Animation with motion capture, 3D Printing and Production using her bank of 3D printers, and a variety of digital photography classes are just some of the courses that are new in the last three years since Jessica’s arrival. 

Jessica has also integrated her classes with special education students, engaging the PHS PACE class (substantial separate, moderate to significant special needs students) in her course in digital photography. She is a teacher who is kind, caring, and dedicated to her students. During the COVID19 pandemic, Jessica completely reinvented her already exciting classes with social-emotional learning “GIFs of Goodness”, where she and her students created images and hung QR code posters throughout the town of Pembroke. They also continued their digital photography and arts courses at home, with Jessica pivoting to assist students with whatever device they may have had available to them at home. She was able to reinvent her curriculum based on best practice, devices available which ran the gamut, all while remaining true to EdTech privacy. 

Jessica and a group Ed Tech Colleagues were at the top of their field throughout the closure as well, competing in an international AR/VR competition hosted by EdTech4Future where they finished with the Bronze Medal and developed numerous lessons for K-12. She and colleagues from across the nation along with their students formed a team called “Empathy” and used their digital photographs to raise money for nutritional programs throughout the world, selling their works and donating almost $400 to feed the hungry. On top of all of that, she spent her “free” time during the COVID closure to print PPE on her 3D printers to donate to local first responders. Jessica is also the advisor to the Pembroke High School yearbook, and completes all the photography and layouts while leading a team of students who work on it with her and another staff member. 

MassCUE is honored to share all of Jessica’s amazing contributions to the field of education and beyond. Congratulations, Jessica, on a job well-done! 

Article submitted by Brandon Hall, Director of Instructional Technology at Pembroke Public Schools

Jessica Lazarus teaches Digital Arts at Pembroke High School. She was a 2019 MassCUE Educator’s Grant recipient for her new 3D Printing & Product Design Course, and has presented at the MassCUE Annual Conference. She has also presented at this years’ Iste Creative Constructor Lab. Follow her on Twitter @mslazarusphs and on Instagram @digitalartphs.

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