Jess Mender

It was just 25 years ago I stood in this exact spot, in this exact school, just in a different role. I was like you, a student, dreaming of becoming a teacher. In 2008 those dreams officially became a reality, as I crossed the stage and received a Bachelor of Education degree from McGill University in Montreal. 

I was born and raised in Ottawa and had the most wonderful upbringing. My experiences at Hillel were pivotal in teaching me the importance of education, community, friendship, tzedakah and giving, but most importantly, Jewish pride. Hillel paved the way for a seamless transition into High School, where I felt advanced and prepared in comparison to my new peers. I was ready to take on what the world had to offer and I thrived. 

I worked hard throughout High School and relied heavily on the work ethic and study habits that were ingrained in me throughout my years at Hillel,  in order to be accepted into McGill. I was part of the famous “double cohort”, and was part of the last group of students to complete grade 13 before Ontario removed it from the curriculum. This meant I was graduating with double the amount of graduates, making it more difficult and competitive to get into University. 

I spent 5 years completing my undergrad at Mcgill in Education, specializing in English Language Arts, History and Ethics. I also received my certificate in Inclusive Education alongside a certificate in the Middle Years Programme for International Baccalaureate Organization (MYP IBO). I was hired immediately upon graduation to teach High School English in the public school system in schools that offered the IB MYP programme. I taught in Montreal at the same school board for 15 years. I worked alongside adolescents of all abilities and from all walks of life. I found myself in challenging environments where my students referred to me not only as their teacher, but their mother, sister, psychologist, coach, friend and guidance counselor. I quickly learnt the importance of my role to these students and found ways to engage them both in and outside of the classroom. Dance shows, fashion shows, overnight and day trips, clubs and special events were all part of my dossier and served to increase my love and passion for teaching. 

This year I made the exciting decision to move my beautiful family back to my home, Ottawa and couldn’t be happier.

I am thrilled to be part of the OJCS team, the team that gave me the foundation to be who I am today, and look forward to working together with you all.