GBHS 2022 new teacher: Elise Jossart


Alexandra Felt

Ms. Jossart sits at her desk in her English classroom.

A circle of students talk excitedly, taking turns to discuss their ideas related to the book they have recently finished. Together, they weave explanations for the actions of the characters in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Quietly moderating their discussion sits their English teacher, in the middle of them all; Elise Jossart, who arrived at Granite Bay in January.

Among the students in the discussion was freshman Ben Roope, who, along with his classmates, had never done this exercise before.

“We had a Socratic discussion last Friday. That was very fun for me, I liked it a lot,” Roope said. “Discussing with our classmates and getting to hear everyone’s different point of view helped me understand the text more.”

In this exercise and every day in the class, Jossart teaches her students “to look beyond what’s just there” and focuses on “what the students need.” 

To wrap up their Romeo and Juliet unit, the students grouped up and each got a different short scene from the book to act out for the class, which included props and anything else the students thought to bring to supplement their performance.

“We had to come up with our translated version,” Charlie Beater, another freshman in Jossart’s class, said. “So some people did Western, some people did a mockumentary like the Office, that sort of thing. You have to actually understand the play in order to change the words or the scene.”

For Beater, this was a fun way to get everyone involved to show what they had learned and close the unit.

To Jossart, it is important to breed enthusiasm like this in the students, which she identified as one of the best qualities she saw in her favorite teachers, but to see it and to emulate it are two different things. 

“I mean, all of us have had an education. We’ve been in the classroom before as the student, but being a teacher is very different … a lot of it’s … being kind of insecure about your own knowledge and your own skills,” Jossart said. 

Jossart’s first teaching experience was certainly very “sink-or-swim”, as her master teacher left on maternity leave and she went full-time as a student teacher. Luckily, she felt supported by the other teachers around her and the attitude of her students.

“A lot of crazy things happen(ed) but that’s kind of how you learn the best,” Jossart. “And I’m still here, I kept going.”

Now, twelve years down the line, she has “gained a lot of little skills that have helped (her) become more confident in who (she is)” in the classroom.

“You can see it every day the way she comes and brings the energy to the classroom,” Beater said.