Jonathan W. Holmes

Jonathan Holmes

Class of 2004

  • Bachelor of Arts in English, Penn State Altoona
  • Master of Education
  • College Board AP Literature and AP Language certifications
  • Reading Apprenticeship training

What do you currently do professionally?
I am currently an English Teacher for sophomore students at the Tyrone Area High School.

How has majoring in English helped you on your career pathway(s)?
Being an English major forced me to focus and be more deliberate when I write. It taught me to think critically and to analyze a situation or text through various perspectives. As an English teacher, these lessons are invaluable in preparing my lessons and teaching my students.

What knowledge and skills help you succeed in your job on a daily basis (and, possibly, in unanticipated ways)?
Communication skills (both writing and speaking) are paramount in the classroom. Having a solid foundation of content knowledge across genres and literary periods has also been incredibly useful.

In what (unanticipated) ways has the English major impacted your life beyond your profession?
Being an English major taught me perspective. Looking through various lenses and perspectives in the interpretation and analysis of literature has provided me with skills I use to communicate better with my peers, students, and their parents. This skillset helps me connect my students to literature and classroom assignments. It helps bring life and purpose to all that we do. It makes the stories, poems, and articles we read and study relevant for my students.

What is your favorite experience from your time in the English program?
I loved my professors. They made class interesting and were passionate about English. They challenged me; they supported me; and they encouraged me to dream and take risks. They never balked at my ideas. They listened to us, valued our insights and thoughts, and helped us find and form our own voice in this world.

What advice do you have for current English majors or students considering entry into the field in which you’re currently working?
Know what you're getting into. Accept the peaks and the valleys. Don't teach for the "summers off." Teach for the kids. Teaching is a brutal career, but it's also incredibly rewarding. A teacher needs to have a passion for the subject they teach. If the teacher isn't passionate about what they're teaching, how can we expect the students to be passionate about (or even interested in) learning it? "Having summers off" isn't enough of a reason to teach, nor is it enough to sustain a career of 30+ years. Education is a calling. It needs to be. The students in our classrooms need more support, compassion, and understanding than they have in a long time. Teaching isn't for everyone. It's a hard career, but if you hold a passion for your subject and have a genuine desire to help students understand, that genuine passion and compassion will light in the hearts of your students.

February 2023