Jessie Venegas

Jessie Venegas is a graduate from the MSc Teaching and Learning, a course for working teachers aiming to encourage a research-based teaching practice.

Her research has centred in finding strategies for motivating learners using a variety of tools and approaches.

Jessie and Emmanuelle Cuccolo founded Starspeaking, a company that delivers bespoke language tuition programmes online and offline. Starspeaking was commissioned to design the academic component of a summer camp and teach English by capitalising on children’s interest in Football as a gateway to vocabulary and grammar.

This is one in a number of similar projects that seeks to teach English in different ways task-based approaches such as teaching through the arts.

Initially Jessie combined degree in Mass Communications and Political Sciences at McMaster University in Canada which then followed by a degree in Law from the University of Birmingham. During her studies Jessie constantly felt drawn to teaching. After spending some time in youth and criminal courts in Birmingham, she realised it was more appealing to be in a position to help young people make the right choices before they run into trouble and felt her talent was far more useful in the classroom than in the courtroom.

Why did you choose to study at OUDE?

Oxford University has a great reputation for producing graduates who make an impact in the world. I always imagined what it would be like to be surrounded by people with big ideas. I realised that I could be learning with other teachers who were also passionate about their work, I had to apply for the Masters in Teaching and Learning programme. I wanted to be the best teacher I could be and Oxford was the best place to do it.

What is your favourite memory from your time at OUDE?

On matriculation, we were told that we would learn more from each other than we would from our teachers. This was absolutely true. Seminars were fabulous because they would lift you up, inspire you and make you laugh.

I had a fantastic team and even after the programme finished we remain in touch. We are currently planning to open a new school in Oxford where teaching practice is the outcome of the best evidence available. We are looking forward to the wonderful things we can accomplish together. We were a great sounding board for each often helping one another through personal and professional decisions. Time spent with them is the best part of the course.

Who in your professional life has inspired you?

My Aunt and uncle Martha Garcia and Alex Jadad.   Together, my aunt and uncle are connecting many of the best minds in the world to improve the capacity of humans to imagine, create and promote new and better approaches to living, healing, working and learning as part of a sustainable planet. Their achievements, which have been greatly inspired by their time at Oxford, act as constant fuel to my dreams about a better world through learning. 

Looking back at your professional achievements, what are you most proud of?

As a teacher the achievements of your pupils are your biggest source of pride. Over the years, I have worked with young people at critical moments on their life. Thinking about the obstacles they have overcome and how their lives have been transformed by this, is my most important professional achievement. However, it surprising just how many young people do not have access to good quality education around the world and widening this access around the world should be a priority.

What advice would you give to anyone thinking of taking up a career in education?

Make sure teaching is what you want to do and not something you do because you don’t know what else to do; being a teacher is both emotionally, physically and mentally draining. Whilst there are many rewards that come with teaching you must really love teaching in order to endure its challenges and have energy to do it well.