Meet A Mom: Jeanna Bickerstaff, M.Ed, Assistant Principal of Curriculum and Instruction at Faith West Academy
Happy Meet A Mom Monday! Today we’d like to introduce you to Jeanna, Assistant Principal of Curriculum and Instruction at Faith West Academy in Katy! Jeanna is a Katy gal, growing up here and now has the pleasure of raising her own family in this community.
Faith West Academy is an accredited, private Christian school for preschool through 12th grade. They provide a biblically based education in a loving, Christian environment.
Navigating all the options available in Katy for school programs can be difficult. Do you go private or public? Do you try language immersion or focus on a faith based school?
Jeanna knows the process herself, having gone through it with her own kiddos, but says what sets Faith West apart is that at its core it’s family. She’s been with the school since 2011, first as a teacher, and believes the curriculum instilling a strong Christian foundation into kiddos is what sets them apart from the rest.
We got to chat with this amazing Katy mama about her love and passion in what she does at Faith West, her favorite things about Katy, and even got some pretty cool mom hacks!
Where are you from originally and how long have you lived in the Katy area?
I am a born and raised Katy girl! I went to Faith West Academy through 8th grade, graduated high school from Mayde Creek in 2001, and returned to Katy after college in 2005, working at Morton Ranch High School for six years before continuing my career at Faith West.
How many kiddos do you have and how old are they?
Three kiddos! My oldest boy is almost six, my middle boy just turned four, and my baby girl turns two in March.
One thing people would be surprised to know about you…
I love to write and dream of writing a novel someday.
Favorite local things to do in Katy?
We love the restaurants at La Centerra! We spend a lot of timing running and biking in the Cinco Ranch area, and Peckham Park is a family favorite. We also love Target, Homegoods, and Hobby Lobby, if those count as things to do lol.
What’s your favorite thing about raising a family in Katy?
For as big as Katy has gotten, there’s still a small-town feel to it. I love that my kids are growing up in a safe, family-centered community. Because I’ve lived here my whole life, I feel like I’m always meeting someone that knows my family or my husband’s family, and those connections continue to amaze me.
Do you have a favorite family friendly restaurant in the area?
Los Cucos! Or as my kids call it—the cheese place. Definitely Texas Borders as our second!
What is your go-to activity for yourself for pampering or for fun?
In my “spare time,” I’m an instructor for My Balance Fitness, a women’s-only fitness bootcamp. Instructing and working out with that group of women is one of my favorite things to do! Not everyone would call it fun I guess, but being active recharges me and allows me to be a better mom. Pampering would be pedicures every few weeks, and the rare date night with my husband.
Funniest shortcut/routine for helping you through parenthood?
So this is actually my husband’s hack, but one of the most frustrating times of the day is putting the kids’ shoes on because they don’t know which shoe goes on which foot! My husband had the idea to put a dot on the inside of each shoe, and when the dots line up, they know the shoes are on the correct feet.
Best mom hack that makes life easier?
Doing as much as possible the night before, and loading the car before I wake the kids up in the morning. All I want them to have to do before school is put on their clothes, brush their teeth, grab their breakfast (we eat in the car) and go!
Tell us about being the Assistant Principal at Faith West Academy? How long have you worked there?
I have worked at Faith West since 2011. I started as an AP English teacher and Director of Curriculum and slowly transitioned to just Director of Curriculum when I finished my master’s degree and principal certification, and this is my first year as Assistant Principal. I still enjoy planning and researching our curriculum, but I had really missed being around students.
Being Assistant Principal is never boring! I primarily work with the elementary teachers and students, but as an administrator, I’m engrossed in every aspect of the school. I love seeing how passionate the teachers are about what they do every day. Observing classrooms and interacting with the students is the best part of my job. The hardest thing for me—and what I’m still learning—is student discipline. I think being a mom has helped me figure out how to discipline students, but it is never easy. I hope that the students always feel that I’m compassionate and understanding, despite any consequences they may receive.
A day in my life at work consists of curriculum oversight, being visible to my teachers and students, and working with my administrative team towards whatever is coming next on our calendar. Helping achieve our mission of Excellence Without Compromise—spiritually, academically, and athletically–and growing our school underscores everything we do. I believe that God has called me to be in this position at this time in my life, and my goal is to do my best to honor that, to support my school, my teachers, my students and their families.
Do your children attend Faith West Academy? As a mom, what made you choose Faith West as their school?
Yes! My two boys currently attend (kinder and Pre-K 3), and my daughter will start Pre-K 2 in August! I always knew that I wanted my children to attend Faith West, even before I was working there, and both boys started in Pre-K 2. I believe that the solid Christian foundation my children are receiving at Faith West is the most important thing that I can give them. Not only are they achieving academically, but everything they do is grounded in the Biblical worldview, and I know that as they get older and are faced with difficult decisions, they will have the ability to make the right choices because of that foundation.
Faith West Academy is a private, Christian school, what makes them unique in comparison to other local private schools?
Faith West at its core is a family. You feel that as soon as you walk in the door. I think that truly sets us apart from other private schools. Our unwavering commitment to Christian education and a Biblical worldview also sets us apart. Most importantly, we believe that education should be individually tailored to each student, and we have so many options available to individualize instruction and learning for each learner. We call this SAIL, student adapted individualized learning. Each student has God-given gifts and talents, and we want to uncover those and allow students to pursue those interests, even if it looks different for each child.
What advice do you have for moms that are struggling deciding between the different options available for schooling (public, private, home school, charter, etc.)?
Ultimately, I believe each family has to make the choice that’s best for them and meets the needs of their individual child. I think it’s very important to tour schools, to really get a feel for what the school and the classroom is like. Moms should feel comfortable communicating not only with a classroom teacher but also with administration. Ultimately, a school should partner with parents to help their child succeed. The school should meet (and exceed!) the needs of a child.
Best advice for working moms who experience the inevitable and dreaded MOM GUILT?
Ugh this one is hard. I am constantly working to remember that I am enough for my kids. My best advice is to remember that you are their biggest role model. Our kids look up to us; they don’t see what we perceive as our flaws. So whether you’re working or staying at home, remember that they love you for you. And if you are a working momma like me, be present in the time you do have with them. For me, it’s from 4:30 pm until bedtime, and even though it’s a time full of making lunches/doing homework/making dinner/taking baths, I try to engage with each of my kiddos individually during that time, even if that just means sitting my daughter on the counter with me while I help my kindergartner with his homework, or reading an extra book with my middle before bedtime.
Who has most influenced you to be the mom you are today?
My momma. She and my dad raised my two younger siblings and me to be strong, confident adults, instilling in us a work ethic that has helped and continues to help us achieve our dreams. She is almost always my first and last text message of the day. She has supported me through absolutely everything in my life. When my middle was colicky and I was suffering through some serious postpartum issues, she dropped everything to be there for me. I can only hope to be that kind of momma to my kiddos. She’s also the best Nonna to my kids, spoiling them as any good Nonna does.
When parenting gets hard, what’s something you tell yourself that gets you through?
God chose me to be their momma, not anyone else. No matter my flaws and my imperfections, He knew those things and He knew that these kids were meant for me.
That, and in the words of Anne Shirley, “tomorrow is another day, with no mistakes in it.”
What would you tell the old “You” before you had kids?
Don’t roll your eyes at the crying kid on the plane—that momma already feels worse than you can imagine!
More more information on Faith West Academy, make sure to check out their website!