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  • Sonja Talwani

Ms. Blessing Didn’t Want a ‘Boring’ Job

Ms. Blessing outside the Walls building / Credits: Sonja Talwani

Rachel Blessing is a social studies teacher with a unique relationship with Walls — before teaching, she was a student here.

Ms. Blessing recalls really liking Walls as a high school student. “Back in the day, we did a lot of field trips,” she said. “You would show up and there would be a sign on the door that says, ‘meet me at the Mall in 20 minutes.’” She said the school was “much more hippie” when she attended.

Because the school building hadn’t yet been renovated and the science labs hadn’t been built, some science classes were held at University of the District of Columbia. “Sometimes [teachers] would be like, ‘Hey, there’s this really cool exhibit at the Mall right now, let’s all go.’”

Ms. Blessing’s dreams of travel and affinity for working with young people led her to teaching. “I’ve always liked working with kids and I wanted a job where I had summer off,” she explained. “I could travel and see the world, and so that led me to teaching.” This summer, she plans to travel to Copenhagen.

“I didn’t want a job where I sit at a job all day — that’s boring,” Ms. Blessing added.

Ms. Blessing says, “I started teaching during the [2008] recession, and D.C. was one of the only places hiring on the east coast, and I knew the school obviously.”

Ms. Blessing considered teaching Spanish before deciding to become a social studies teacher. She always knew that teaching elementary or middle school was “off the table.” “I didn’t want to do elementary,” she said. “I mean really you’re crying over feelings? There’s bodily fluids everywhere? I mean, little kids are cute, but that’s a whole lot.”

Now, Ms. Blessing teaches AP Prep World History, AP Psychology, and D.C. History. She sponsors the Sunrise Club, Women Inspiring Strength and Empowerment, and Dessert Club. Her favorite part of her job, she said, is “the people — we get so many different types of kids from all over.”

Reflecting on her experience, she said, “I try to teach the way I would want to be taught. So I try to be clear and be organized and all of that. I think that being a student here has helped me recognize that kids want to be out of the building.” For example, she tries to take her D.C. History class outside of the building “at least once a week.”

The biggest piece of advice that Ms. Blessing would give to her students is to “just recognize that everyone’s going through something … be kind all the time because you never know how important that [could] be.”

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