There is something magical when people find and honor their true calling. What’s even better is when that calling is used to benefit and change the lives of children. A great teacher is selfless, dedicated, and inspirational. This perfectly describes this week’s LaPorte County Life in the Spotlight Jessica Banic, third grade teacher at Hailmann Elementary School in La Porte.
Banic’s journey to Hailmann did not veer too far, as she was born and raised a Slicer. After graduating from LPHS, Banic found herself at PNC studying elementary education. Her first teaching job was a long term substitute position at Hailmann, and because of that experience, she obtained a special education degree from Indiana Wesleyan University. She taught special education for six years before moving over to third grade four years ago. The path Banic traveled down was set early on in her life.
“I've wanted to be a teacher for as long as I can remember. I loved school as a child and had many amazing teachers who left strong impressions on me. I want to do the same for my students,” Banic said.
Banic is doing just that. She will go to any length to inspire, engage, and connect with her students. From dressing up as characters like Little Red Riding Hood, Pecos Bill and a bird lady for reading units to constantly thinking outside the box to make learning fun, Banic puts her entire heart into her lessons. Teaching is not just a job; it’s who she is at her core, and it is noticed and appreciated by Hailmann staff and students alike.
“She is a fantastic motivator in her role as a staff member and a teacher. She has the ability to build positive relationships with the people around her through her creativity and encouragement. I love her sense of humor and her passion for teaching and advocating for students with special needs. I am blessed to know Jessica and work with her as part of our team at Hailmann,” Denise Sanders, Hailmann principal, said.
Banic is the epitome of service before self. She is a part of the school’s Response To Intervention (RTI) team, Together We Achieve After School Remediation Program, and Core Data Team, and she is the Student Council Teacher Representative and is in charge of Hailmann’s Public Relations team. Throw in that she tutors three high school students throughout the school year, and it is clear that Banic’s plate is overflowing.
“She is a very conscientious co-worker and is involved in many extracurricular activities. She puts her whole heart into everything she does to make our school a better place and is always good at encouraging other staff members, too. I enjoy working with her and feel that I am a better person because of the example she shows everyday,” Pam Fritzen, Hailmann librarian, said.
The love she has for her school is also evident by her presence on social media. As the PR liaison for Hailmann, Banic has control of the school’s Facebook page. On top of her already crazy day as a teacher, she makes time to move around to other classrooms to highlight all that is happening for the community to see. The Hailmann page had about 200 followers at the beginning of last year, but now, because of Banic, the page has over 1,300 people staying updated with the Huskies’ daily adventures.
“She is the most incredible PR representative for our school. I could not even imagine how much extra responsibility that must be for her to submit pictures/statements for our entire school, but she cares for our students and staff so much that she does so willingly,” Timber Juskevice, Hailmann teacher and best friend, said.
As hard as it is to believe, Banic does have a life outside of the halls of Hailmann Elementary. She exchanges her teacher hat for her daughter, sister, wife, doggy mom role. Just like at school, she is always busy.
“I love traveling to new places, biking, landscaping/gardening, crafting, and hanging out with my husband and bulldog, Royce,”
The impact that Banic has had in the community can be felt far and wide. She gives so much of herself not for the attention but because that’s just who she is. She is irreplaceable and cherished by many, which makes her an excellent choice for the La Porte County Life in the Spotlight.
“I put my whole heart into everything that I do and give it all I got. My dad instilled in me at a young age to never give up and don't stop until you're finished,” Banic said.