My name is JaMonet Rice and I was a student at the International Academy of Smyrna between 2012 and 2015. My experience was like most middle schoolers: learning everything taught to us, making friends, and trying to figure out who I wanted to be. But what makes my experience more rewarding than most was I had a special group of teachers at IAS who wanted nothing more than to see me do my best. Ms. Battle was my math teacher from sixth grade all the way until eighth grade, and I have yet to come across another math teacher like her. I had great difficulty in math and half the time, I didn’t bother with my assignments. Ms. Battle not only encouraged me and supported me, she set aside extra time in the mornings to go over lessons with me. I felt that I was too stupid to understand or care about math, but she wouldn’t hear it. She pushed me and supported me because she knew I could do it. I ended up being a very proficient math student through my high school years as well.
The other teacher that holds a special place in my heart is the one and only, Mrs. Sharp. She was the social studies teacher but she really took the social part of it to the next level. In her class, we didn’t just look at people, events, and dates. Ms. Sharp put context behind it, she put meaning behind it, she wanted us to understand why things unfolded the way they did. She used to have a saying, “Everything relates to Everything.” As I get older, it only makes more sense. Mrs. Sharp encouraged me to learn all I could and to not be afraid of sharing my opinions and my voice. Which as a young black woman, was building a foundation I would later need for finding my place in the world. My time with her taught me the importance of belief, knowledge, and working for what you want.
It’s important that a school cultivates as much as it nurtures, and IAS was a wonderful balance of both. My time as a student showed me ways that I could be impactful. It’s how I discovered that I wanted to write and explore other cultures as a cultural anthropologist. It’s where I learned to stand up and fight for myself, where I met my best friend whom I’m still best friends with to this very day. IAS is and always will be a school that cares for its students, but will push for them to be great.
JaMonet is currently working at a tech consulting sales company, while saving up money to get her Master’s in Anthropology.