Jessica Blatzheim, of Ocean View, who is studying early care and education at Sussex Technical High School and planning on a career in the classroom, was awarded a 2020 Horatio Alger National Scholarship, worth $25,000 — one of 108 students across the country to receive the award.
“I really believe in teachers not just having an interest in working with kids, but really wanting to make a difference,” said the Sussex Tech senior. “There really has to be a passion behind it.”
After earning her college degree, Blatzheim wants to be an elementary teacher, focusing on the younger grades. She said teachers need to understand their students and where they’re coming from.
“For example, if you have a kid with behavior problems, you ask why they’re acting like that, and not just punish them right away,” she said. “Get into understanding your kids and creating comfortable environments. … It’s important to create connections early on, getting to know your kids and what learning needs are necessary for them.”
Each week, Blatzheim mentors a second-grade student at Georgetown Elementary School. She has competed twice at the national competition for Educators Rising, an organization of high school students planning to become teachers, and won gold honors twice at the state level. She is vice-president of Sussex Tech’s Key Club and a member of the National Honor Society and the National Technical Honor Society.
She plans to use the SEED Scholarship to attend Delaware Technical Community College for two years and then earn her bachelor’s degree at Wilmington University. As a Horatio Alger National Scholar, Blatzheim will also attend the National Scholars Conference this spring in Washington, D.C.
Sussex Technical High School’s early care and education program prepares students for careers as teachers, child care center directors, child psychologists, social workers or therapists. All students spend laboratory time working in the state-licensed day care center at the high school, while coursework covers child growth and development, teaching methods and activities, classroom management and child care regulations.