By Sophie Fisher ‘21, News Editor
This year, Heschel welcomes Jennifer Jourlait to the high school community as a member of the language department. Jourlait, who majored in Spanish at Vanderbilt University, is teaching Spanish 9 and accelerated Spanish 10. Jourlait grew up in Westchester but went to college in the South because she wanted to explore another part of the country. After spending a semester abroad in Spain, she came to love international travel, moving to France just a year after graduating college. “I like to learn,” she remarked, sharing that she went on to pursue masters degrees in Spanish, French, and English literature.
For nearly a decade, Jourlait lived in Paris, where she taught high school English. She moved back to New York with her family three years ago, and has since taught at The Town School, a lower school and middle school on the Upper East Side.
When asked what inspired her to teach languages, Jourlait said, “My mother was a Spanish and English teacher. I swore I would never become my mother and now look at me! It’s hilarious – sometimes you can’t escape your gene pool.” She also shared that her mother “was always dreaming of traveling to foreign lands or experiencing exotic food,” and that she herself took after her and fulfilled all those fantasies. When she isn’t teaching, Jourlait enjoys traveling, cooking foods of various cuisines, and staying active, whether it be through playing tennis, swimming, or running. Jourlait is also passionate about her four adopted cats, three of which she got on some of her many travels. “We adopted one from a farm in France, one from the streets in Cartagena, Columbia, and one from a ranch in Mexico,” she explained.
Jourlait, who has a Jewish father but was raised Protestant, admires the school’s religious focus and the fact that students are required to learn Hebrew. “I think it is so important for kids to have a strong sense of who they are as children of God, and having a wonderful community of religious mentors, teachers, and friends is a terrific advantage when facing the overwhelmingly secular society that surrounds us,” she said.
She is excited to use new tools to make remote learning as dynamic and engaging as possible. “What I like most about teaching is getting to know my students and seeing them progress, and even if online learning is not ideal, I don’t think it will go on forever.”