Getting to know a 2023 Lab Scholar–Jean Plum
- Who are your favorite writers?
Among many others, though admittedly not a prolific reader! Khaled Hosseini, The Kite Runner. James Hurst, for his only famous work, “The Scarlet Ibis”! Miguel de Unamuno, San Manuel Bueno, Márti, and Julio Cortázar, Axolotl–intensely philosophical and profoundly human.
- Who are your heroes in real life?
My mother and my younger brother, through both their strengths and their weaknesses. My kids. They are really grounded and good human beings. Caregivers.
- Who or what motivated you to become an educator?
My dad was an erudite and self-taught man, whose table talks made me curious about history and the world, especially languages. My mom was a nurse, a patient caregiver. I fell into a teacher/caregiver role when my younger brother had to relearn most skills after his car accident and then again when I traded teaching undergraduate Spanish classes for a Master’s degree! I loved teaching, and it stuck!
- Your idea of happiness…
Simple and beautiful things make me happy. An amazing cup of coffee, wine, repurposing something, a personal connection, a compliment, a strong hug, a hike, a run, watching chipmunks, driving.
- In a nutshell, what is your definition of leadership?
Leadership is embracing the patience to observe and acknowledge others for their gifts.
- What do you most value in your friends?
Genuineness. No need to be anyone other than my own messy imperfect self.
- What do you do for self-renewal?
- Who is your hero/ heroine of fiction?
I will admit that I adore the badassery of the likes of Katniss Everdeen of Hunger Games and Offred/June of The Handmaid’s Tale.
- What is your current state of mind?
Chill! Ready to take on another week!
Jean Plum is in her twenty-sixth year of teaching, the past 15 years at the University School of Milwaukee. Alongside teaching Spanish she has deeply enjoyed the rewards and challenges of being a Freshman Class Dean for the past 8 years, helping with admissions and coaching girls’ soccer, too. Finding new ways to improve an old craft for each new round of students is what she likes best about her job, and she feels strongly about supporting social justice efforts both at school and within the larger community. Jean feels fortunate to have benefited from professional development opportunities over the years including trips to Guatemala, Cuba, Panama, and Spain, and the last two summers at the gcLi Leadership Lab (‘21) and the Stanley H. King Institute (‘22), respectively. She credits most of her learning to family life and all of its challenges over the years, including extra caretaking responsibilities. In her downtime, Jean enjoys catching up with her husband Michael and three adult children, gardening, running, and playing with their new kittens!