Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta

Photo By Michael Alexander
Mistie Jéan reads Hans de Beer’s “Little Polar Bear and the Brave Little Hare” to her second-grade class. Jéan, a native of Columbus, Ohio, has taught at St. Joseph School in Marietta for 14 years.


While achieving her goal to teach, she also discovered Catholic faith

By NICHOLE GOLDEN, Staff Writer | Published February 5, 2015

MARIETTA—The classroom of second-grade teacher Mistie Jéan at St. Joseph School in Marietta reflects her enthusiasm for education.

The colorful room, decorated in a pirate theme for this school year, features an extensive library of hundreds and hundreds of books.

Reading is Jéan’s favorite subject to teach.

“I’ve read every single one of those,” she said.

A career in teaching has been Jéan’s goal since childhood. Her sister, Melodie McCormick, is also on staff at St. Joseph School.

“She’ll attest when I came home from kindergarten I would play school, and she was my student. I knew exactly what I wanted to do,” said Jéan.

Raised in Pataskala, Ohio, Jéan earned her degree in education at Wright State University in Dayton.

After graduation, she started substitute teaching at several schools and highly recommends that to new graduates.

“I could see all different kinds of classrooms,” she said.

By filling in for many teachers, Jéan learned about various ways to organize classrooms and write lesson plans.

Her first permanent job as a teacher was a kindergarten post, leading two separate half-day programs in two different buildings.

A lack of parental involvement made her early teaching years challenging. She once had to recruit her parents to be chaperones for a trip to the zoo.

McCormick’s children were students at St. Joseph’s and she heard of a job opening at the school.

“Why don’t you move to Georgia?” was McCormick’s suggestion.

Jéan is about to celebrate 14 years at St. Joseph School and its loving environment moved her to enter the Catholic Church.

Hearing the daily prayers, events like the blessing of the pets, and attending weekly Mass with its beautiful music all spoke to Jéan. Her sister’s family was also Catholic.

“It made me want to be a part of everything at St. Joe’s,” she said.

Jéan recalled the special year when her second-grade students were preparing for their first Communion, and she was in the RCIA at Transfiguration Church in Marietta.

“My class made me a quilt,” she said. “They were going through it and I was going through it.”

One of the highlights of Jéan’s tenure has been the economics project called Cougar Mall. It’s a unit on consumers and producers and also benefits the school’s charity, The Lighthouse Retreat.

“The kids make crafts at home,” explained Jéan. Then they think about how to price their items ranging from 25 cents to $5.

The children write advertisements for a catalog to be distributed to the shoppers, all students in kindergarten through the fifth grade. The seventh-grade students collaborate with the second-graders to make commercials for products on iPads. The sale day is an all-morning event.

“They make a storefront. It’s so cute … the bargaining,” said Jéan.

In the 13 years of Cougar Mall, more than $15,600 has been collected for Lighthouse Retreat, which sends young cancer patients and their families to the beach for a week of relaxing activities. Last year alone, the mall activity raised $1,000.

Jeán knows it is a cliché, but said that St. Joseph’s “feels like family.” It would not be possible to do what she does without the support of fellow teachers and parents, emphasized Jéan.

Jéan and her husband, Clyde, have two children, Maximillian and baby Vivian. Maximillian is in fifth grade at St. Joseph School.

“We get to come to school together,” beamed Jéan.

Teaching aide Linda Elliott calls Jéan “spirit-filled” and an educator who makes every lesson seem new due to spontaneity and creativity.

“Even though she has been teaching for 20-plus years, she is a treasure trove,” said Elliott.

Principal Patricia Allen said Jéan is a wonderful example of a Catholic educator.

“Her classroom is warm and inviting; it is a place where teacher and students show respect, compassion and kindness toward one another,” said Allen.

Even laminated pirates dangling from the ceiling signify something. The pirate acronym encourages students to be “Prepared, Informed, Ready, Together, Everyday.”

Allen added that Jéan sets high standards for the children.

“Not only does she do an amazing job working with the students, but she is also willing to lend a helping hand to her colleagues,” said the principal. “She lives her faith each day, and we are blessed to have her in our school community.”

Jéan is part of a team that provides spiritual support when needed for staff and also coordinates snacks for Vacation Bible School at St. Joseph Church.

With the advent of technology such as iPads and the Starboard interactive whiteboards, sometimes it’s the students sharing knowledge with Jéan.

“I’m learning as well as they’re learning,” she said.