Teaching is the only job Dayton ISD teacher Jeri Clay ever wanted, and this year marks her 22-year anniversary as an educator.
Clay is the secondary Science Instructional Coach, meaning she oversees the curriculum delivery of all science students grade sixth through 12th. She says her desire to teach comes from a childhood experience where she was able to mentor a friend and help them be successful.
“As a Generation X-er, special education and 504 were not readily available for students of the 80s unless they were self-contained students. My best friend had a reading disability and had always struggled in school. I spent my seventh- and eighth-grade years tutoring my friend after school. I fell in love with teaching at that point, and knew I didn’t want to do anything else with my life. The utter joy on his face when he finally understood a concept was amazing,” Clay said.
Teaching is more than a job to Clay; it is a passion. This passion for teaching was revealed to her by her high school science teacher.
“In high school, I had a spectacular chemistry and Advanced Placement chemistry teacher. It was here I decided high school science was the teaching track for me,” Clay said.
She originally interviewed for a science teaching position with Dayton ISD but when she realized the Instructional Coaching job was vacant, she pursued that opportunity. Clay enjoys helping Dayton ISD teachers to be successful. She says that the biggest challenge as an instructional coach is trying to help her teachers find a balance between teaching face-to-face students as well as those students who have chosen to stay at home and learn remotely. Her biggest joy from her job is when she is able to help her teachers “find joy in the chaos.”
Clay is not only working with the science teachers at Wilson Jr. High and Dayton High School, but she has also taken on the added role of being the Friday night video director at Bronco Stadium. Clay has a group of 10-12 students with whom she works at every home game to run the video board and all of the ads and replays that fans get to enjoy. She directs the students as they do the actual work in producing what is showing on the board.
Students run the video production as well as the cameras at each home game. This is a great opportunity for these students to learn a skill that they can take with them when they leave Dayton High School, and can help them earn money and scholarships in college as well.
Education has always been important to Mrs. Clay, and was something that was stressed by her parents when she was growing up. With their support and guidance, Mrs. Clay was the first in her family to receive her college bachelor degree and now holds two master degrees as well.
Clay has carried this to her own children and pushes her children to be successful in all of their academic endeavors.
“Mrs. Clay has been teaching for twenty-two years, and Dayton ISD is very proud that she has chosen to be an important part of our community and school,” according to a statement from the school district.