Silver Chips Online

Jessell, Margaret

By Sophia Deng, Online Managing Editor
June 30, 2008

Name: Margaret Jessell
Department: Social Studies
Came to Blair in: 2004
Classes Taught: AP Psychology, Honors Psychology
Education: B.A. from University of Maryland, Masters in Administration from Johns Hopkins University
Previous Jobs: Commercial real estate agent, Government teacher, IB Psychology teacher, Biology teacher
Hobbies: Oil painting, playing soccer, being with her three children


Margaret Jessell may not be a teenager, but she still plays Truth/Dare, hosts murder-mystery parties and goes to R.E.M. concerts with her friends. A petite woman with piercing blue eyes, Jessell seems solemn and very serious. But in reality, she is the complete opposite. "Oh, I'm mean and uptight," she jokingly describes her personality. Then, cracking up at her joke, Jessell reveals the hidden goofy and outgoing side that her students, children and friends have the privilege to see.
AP Psychology teacher Margaret Jessell smiles for a picture in her classroom. Sophia Deng
AP Psychology teacher Margaret Jessell smiles for a picture in her classroom.


Before working as a teacher, Jessell worked in commercial real estate. "I didn't like it very much. I'm not good at selling things," she admits. But she soon found her true calling. In 1993, Jessell began to teach. She started her career in Prince George's County, where she taught for five years, and subsequently taught at various Montgomery County schools, including Wheaton and Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School. Jessell's love of psychology is a reason why she taught the course in many of the schools. She even introduced a class to one school that did not originally offer the course. "Psychology is such an easy class to use in the real world," she explains.

Psychology teaching is an occupation Jessell did not predict for herself because she received a Master's in Administration at Johns Hopkins University, which prepared her for a career as an administrator. However, Jessell did take many psychology classes in college. Thus, at one point, she discarded administration for education. "I loved teaching too much," she reveals.

Jessell believes that teaching psychology is incredibly fun, and she teaches her students in a style "where we build respect and understanding." Jessell expects her students to respect her, and she greatly respects her students as well. "I'm lucky because my students recognize their weaknesses. They know they're not perfect. They are diverse and great," she proudly says.

Jessell's teaching style is known to be humorous. "The thing that students remember the most about me is that I tell funny stories about my personal life," Jessell says. When teaching her class about "anti-norms," for instance, Jessell tells her class about a time when she crazily played Truth/Dare at a restaurant with her friends. "My friends dared me to put toilet paper on my shoes and walk through a restaurant, and when people said, 'Hey, you got something on your foot,' I would have to pretend I didn't hear them," she grins.

Jessell loves teaching so much because she gets to interact with students. Her devotion is especially evident when her students ask her questions about psychology. Jessell becomes extremely animated when they do, and her blue eyes light up as she gesticulates excessively. Her three children have also inherited her passion for psychology. "They love psychology, and they come to school to be test experiments," Jessell excitedly exclaims.

Outside of school, Jessell loves to oil paint. "I love painting abstract landscapes," she specifies. She admits that if she were not a psychology teacher, she would be an art teacher. Her other hobbies include playing soccer and being with her three children, Harry, Thomas and Bridget.

As a result of becoming involved in psychology, Jessell believes that she looks at things in a more psychological perspective. "I think of things in terms of theories," she says. Additionally, Jessell has found that she is less judgmental of others because of her broad knowledge about the mind. She understands herself well, and can identify and even admit her strengths and weaknesses. "My strengths are that I am a people's person, I care about people. And my weaknesses are that I can be absent-minded and forgetful."

Jessell is truly multifarious. One minute she solemnly and maturely admits her characteristic weaknesses; the next, she brightly recounts the most unusual thing she has ever done. "I was once stuck in the trunk of a car...voluntarily though," she quickly and humorously adds. With a childlike aurora, yet a mature and sensitive air about her, Jessell gives her psychology students no choice but to laugh and learn.

http://silverchips.mbhs.edu/story/8412