Story by Barry Wise Smith and Photo by Catherine Mayo
Jenny Harvey, an ESL teacher at Homewood High School, started teaching French at Homewood in 1991, Melissa Dameron-Vines’ senior year. Five years later, in 1996, Harvey championed Dameron-Vines’ hiring as a French teacher (she now teaches French and English and is the yearbook sponsor) after her UAB graduation. The women have been close friends and valued colleagues ever since.
Jenny Harvey: I started at Homewood Mel’s senior year. I taught her younger brother and taught her for a bit when her French teacher went out on leave.
Melissa Dameron-Vines: Jenny was my first mentor, and she still is. When I first started teaching, I immediately called her. “What the heck do I do?”
JH: I was 30 when I started teaching in Atlanta, after staying at home with my children. For me, it was about the passion of learning, creating opportunities for that light bulb to go off.
MDV: I love to see light bulbs going off for my students. We want them lit up! I just enjoy being in the room. I call it the magic—when the kids get something. I love collaborating with colleagues but also just being with the kids.
JH: We get to establish relationships with our students, and they’re old enough to sense the importance of that connection.
MDV: Jenny’s always been a nurturer, not just for the kids but for all of us.
JH: We are each other’s safe place—we bounce ideas off each other. The minute I open my mouth, she knows what’s coming out of it. We both know where we’re heading.
MDV: This year, I’m slowing things down to make space for things. I’m dialing out some of the noise to empower the students to learn. You have to learn how to learn.
JH: My rule has always been to begin with the end in mind. Decide what you want to accomplish by the end of the year and work backwards from there.
JH: We have a special connection. We can go weeks without seeing each other, and we pick right up. There’s a lot of magic here. We’re each other’s biggest fan.