Jessica Eddy is the founding principal of AF Legacy Elementary in Queens, NY. . Read our interview with her below to learn more about what inspired her to pursue a career in education, her favorite hobbies, and what she’s most looking forward to as the founding principal of the school.
Tell us about yourself – where are you from? What are some of your favorite hobbies and things you like to do for fun? Is there a unique or interesting fact about you not many people know?
I was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY. My family immigrated from Grenada in the 80s and so Caribbean culture is a huge part of my identity. They also instilled in me the importance of a great education and because of this, I fell in love with learning at an early age. From memorizing stories that were read to me as a little girl and then pretending to read them aloud to my younger sister, to spelling bees and late nights spent studying, I understood the transformative power of learning new things and wanted others to experience it, too. When I’m not teaching or learning, I love traveling to different countries and experiencing new cultures, interior design and decorating, and curling up with a good book or movie. Before becoming a school leader, I dabbled in bodybuilding for a bit!
What inspired you to get into education?
I first became inspired to get into education when I learned more about educational inequity in college. I will never forget the moment when, listening to my professor relay some pretty grim statistics about the educational experience of students of color, it all clicked for me. While I excelled at school academically, the underlying reasons for my social experience (attending segregated schools, doubting my potential, being unaware of certain educational opportunities, to name a few), all started to make sense. Much of my educational experiences were dictated by where I was from and what I looked like, and I wanted to get on the front lines to change that for students with backgrounds similar to mine.
Why be an educator with Achievement First?
I decided to join Achievement First because I wanted to be a part of a team where people believed in the full potential of all students, and where I would be challenged as an educator. While I felt my previous teaching experience molded me into a good teacher, I was hungry for the kind of development that would push me from being good, to great, on behalf of my students and their families.
When did you know you wanted to be a principal?
I truly can’t say that there was a moment I knew I wanted to be a principal. I wanted to be the best possible educator for children and taking on this role happened along the way, more so from a deep sense of responsibility I feel for our children and the communities we serve. It has always been important to me that our children receive a high quality, well rounded education from people who know and love them. I am just so fortunate that over the years, I’ve been able to expand my impact to ensure that this is the case for many more children for years to come.
As a founding principal, what are you most looking forward to?
I am most looking forward to fostering a true community where children are empowered to meet their academic and life goals by drawing strength from who they are and what makes them special. As we break ground in Queens, I am also excited to build incredibly strong relationships with our families and community partners. It’s important to me that Legacy is not just a school that is in the community, but also a school that is of the community, and I can’t wait to start doing that work!
What do you want scholars and families to know about your school?
I most want our students and families to know that they are joining a true family at AF Legacy. A legacy is just as much the story you are a part of as it is the story you leave behind. At our school, we are all a family connected on the journey of helping our children see and achieve greatness now and in the future.