MNPS Voices: Kiara Wesson

MNPS Voices: Kiara Wesson, English Language Arts Teacher, John Early Museum Magnet Middle School
Posted on 08/31/2022
Kiara Wesson portrait

Kiara Wesson grew up in North Nashville and went to John Early Museum Magnet Middle School for seventh grade and eighth grade. When she got a chance to return as a teacher in training last year, she made sure John Early was at the top of her list of preferred schools. 

“The kids, a lot of them live where I used to live, in the same neighborhood,” Wesson said. “I was like, I would love to go back and help them – my community. And I was really excited when they told me I did get a position at John Early.”

Kiara Wesson portrait

After a year as a resident teacher paired with a mentor, Wesson now has her own classroom at John Early, where she teaches English Language Arts to seventh graders who are following in her footsteps.

She’s giving back to the school and community that educated and raised her, and her supervisor can see her commitment in action every day.

“Ms. Wesson is all about the students,” John Early Principal Jeremy Riggs said. “Her compassion paired with her high expectations is a winning combination for students' success in and out of the classroom.”

Wesson, who went on from her student days at John Early to become the valedictorian of the Class of 2014 at Pearl-Cohn Entertainment Magnet High School, took a while to find her way to teaching. She studied psychology at Fisk University after initially thinking about majoring in nursing.

Field work at an enrichment center for children and a year and a half as a paraprofessional at Hillsboro High School “got my mind moving” about teaching, she said, and she thought, “Maybe this is something that I could do.”

So when she heard about the Nashville Teacher Residency, which helps aspiring teachers get their license through a combination of coursework and time spent with a veteran classroom teacher, she went for it.

Wesson said she initially thought her students would be similar to how she and her classmates were 12 or 13 years ago. But she began to see that they instinctively dream up and routinely make engaging, hilarious TikToks and other social media posts, navigating a world that was just emerging when she was in middle school.

The students “are really funny,” Wesson said. “They have big personalities, and they know a lot.”

Teaching has evolved, too, with much more of an emphasis on group projects now and a greater focus on equitable instruction and accommodations that educators make “very intentionally so that every student is known.”

But some things have stayed the same. Moving around her old stomping grounds was easy for Wesson, and the school counselor from her time as a student at John Early is still there, too.

“I came in and had instant support,” she said.

In her free time, Wesson enjoys reading mysteries and psychological thrillers and spends a lot of time with her 3-year-old daughter, who recently started pre-kindergarten at Hull-Jackson Montessori Elementary School – another MNPS school Wesson herself once attended.

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