Teacher Feature: Ms. Jade Scarpa


Liam McDermott

When we look for teachers to interview, we look for teachers well-liked by students who can relate to the lives of students really well, and who overall is just a fun person to interview. The perfect person for this is Ms. Jade Scarpa. Ms. Scarpa is an English teacher here at TMHS. She mostly teaches sophomores and her creative writing class. She can relate a lot to students whether it’s academically, and is there to help with mental breakdowns. Today, we gave her the hot seat and had her answer some tough questions. As some of us in Drama used to say, “Jade Scarpa everyone!!!”.

Either as a teacher or when you were a student here, what was the funniest moment you have ever had here at TMHS?

“Probably when I ran out of gas in the entrance of TMHS and blocked the busses and other cars from being able to get by. Mr. Bourgoin was in front of me, so I called him in a complete panic, hoping he could help me. He then pulled over, got out of his car and took pictures to document my despair.”

What is your favorite thing about being a teacher?

“​The company credit card. When one of the students tells me that they want to become an English teacher one day. Watching someone gain confidence in themselves is an incredible feeling. Last year I told my Creative Writing students about a writer’s open mic that a cafe in Lowell hosts each month, and when I showed up there that night, a number of my students were there, waiting to read their writing. Watching them take the stage to read stories about their lives in front of local college students, adults and professional writers was one of the greatest joys of my entire life. Seeing teenagers come out to a cafe on a Friday night to do something that terrified them made me feel incredibly alive. Watching students embrace their voices and realize they have something to say that needs to be heard actually makes me believe in fate for a few minutes. It’s like their story was destined to be told, and they were destined to tell it, and I was fortunate enough to witness it. It’s incredible.”

If you weren’t a teacher, what would you be and why?

“I would own a coffee shop called Bluebird Coffeehouse and our slogan would be “Your foam away from home.” We would offer gourmet coffee, dozens of naturally flavored coffee selections, and host coffee roasting workshops. There would be a fireplace, and the aesthetic would be “cozy, rustic barn loft.” I haven’t really thought about this at all haha
What I would really want to be the main feature of the coffee shop though is weekly open mic nights for musicians and writers of all ages. When I was in high school, my friends who were in local bands would play shows in the basement of the Tewksbury United Methodist Church, and you’d have one hundred kids pack that room on a Friday or Saturday night to listen to their friends play music. Once I started teaching in Tewksbury, it made me a little bit sad to see that there’s not really many places outside of the city for people to come together and have that shared artistic experience. Watching the students in the TMHS Theatre Company perform at Cafe Sicilia during their open mic nights the past few years made me realize that the embers of the music scene I romanticized from my youth are still burning today, and I hope that all of those students who showed their passion for music continue to cultivate that love.”

If you could teach any other subject but English, what would it be and why?

“History- When I was presented with the opportunity to teach at TMHS over seven years ago, I was accepting a role teaching both World History and World Literature. I remembered a teacher I knew once telling me, “if you want to be a great English teacher, learn to be a great history teacher because then you’ll know why these books are important.” During my years teaching both history and English, I learned the vital significance of examining the historical context behind a work of literature, and have challenged myself ever since to embed history into my lessons on literature.”

What is your favorite TV show?

“Probably Seinfeld”

What is your favorite genre of music?

“I’ve been listening to a lot of the same bands since I was 14. Bright Eyes, Death Cab for Cutie, Dashboard Confessional, American Football…basically, if you come across an artist who sounds like someone’s stomped on his or her heart with a pair of soccer cleats, I listen to them.”

Do you have any hobbies outside of school?

“Mostly running, playing music, having full-length conversations with my dog. Last year I actually started making a habit of going to breakfast by myself once a week to read. I would sit at the counter and order a pot of coffee and a fruit cup. I made friends with a lot of other individuals who would also eat at the counter alone on a Sunday morning. They’d ask me about the latest novel I was reading, I’d ask them about the Eisenhower administration. We were birds of a feather.”

What is your favorite food?

“Buffalo chicken anything.”

What is your favorite color?

“Dark green”

Do you have any pets?

“My pug, Mr. Biggles. He’s the greatest human being you’ll ever meet.”

What is your favorite movie?

“My number one is and always will be ​Garden State​. Tied for second are probably ​Little Miss Sunshine​, ​What About Bob​, and ​Casper​. I recently re-watched C​ asper​ and ugly cried at least twice.”

If you could have any car in the world, what would it be and why?

“One that can pass inspection. Haha, just kidding, I guess. I really loved the 1998 Jeep Cherokee that I had for the past few years, but unfortunately I had to retire it. My sister-in-law gave me her old SUV, and I’m going to continue to drive it until the engine blows. Buying a new car to me is like buying a $35,000 pair of jeans. It’s just not something I really care about or look forward to.”

What would your dream house look like?

“The Rosehill Cottage from the movie ​The Holiday​. It’s made out of stone and situated in a quiet English hamlet, and I would love nothing more than to spend my mornings curled up next to the cottage fireplace, eating biscuits in a nightgown stolen from the set of ​A Christmas Carol.​ *lets out a smile and sigh, lost in far away thought*”

What was your favorite quarantine activity?

“I started writing a lot of my own music during quarantine, which was an awesome feeling because it’s something I had put off doing for a long time because I ‘never had time for it.’ When it was midnight and I couldn’t manage to fall asleep, I’d grab my guitar and play for hours. My husband loved it….

Also, I started this really random and strange tradition for a couple weeks, where every morning I would make a pancake shaped like an animal or pop culture reference. People on social media would request certain ‘Panimals’ (as I called them), and I would make their requests. I made a rooster, cat, Elmo, Baby Yoda, unicorn, cow, Olaf, and Carl from ​Up.​ It was just something silly and lighthearted to do in the midst of all of the uncertainty.”

What is your favorite book and why?

“Fahrenheit 451. I mean, the book was first published in 1953, but when we hold a mirror up to the dystopian society that Ray Bradbury created, we see our own world. We, myself included, have fallen into this trap where we would rather have entertainment fed directly to us through the television than read a book. We would rather communicate with people we barely know on social media than talk to the person living in the same house as us. We would rather have moments of cheap thrill than slow down and develop meaningful relationships. We’ve disconnected ourselves and disengaged ourselves to the point where we risk falling into this lie that it’s ‘cool’ to not care about anything: our beliefs, ethics, politics, education. And we stare down into our devices and rotate between Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, Visco, Pinterest, Facebook, text messages, video games, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, etc, and we’re staring down for so long that these virtual realities become our primary realities. Those are our universes, and the one we see when we look up from those just seems like an abstraction. That’s why we need to find more balance when it comes to these forms of entertainment, and work on making the world around us the reality we want to live in. We need to challenge ourselves to be present in our conversations and our experiences, and allow ourselves to think critically and creatively.”

If you could go back in time, what year would you go to and why?

“If you’re asking about historical time periods, I think I could have rocked a Rococo ball gown. If I could go back to any time in my own life, I would go back to when I was 15 or 16. There was just this feeling of lightness, an absence of gravity I guess you could call it. Every day felt like a brand new experience, and I felt like I could do and be whatever I wanted for that day. Everything was just an experiment, and if it went well, great; if it didn’t, it didn’t matter anyways because there’d be 75 more years to get it right.”

What is your favorite show that you have ever done here when you were the director of TMHSTC?

“That’s a really hard question to answer, because each show left me feeling extremely proud about something particular to that production process. ​It’s a Wonderful Life​ was an extremely complex show to bring to the stage due to the scene changes, costuming, time period props, and the pressure of living up to such an iconic and well-known story, so I was really in awe of the way that it came together for opening night.

I think the show that I enjoyed the most in respect to the process would probably have to be Almost, Maine​. Because the scenes each involve only two or three cast members, the rehearsals felt really conversational and intimate in a way that they should for this show. It wasn’t about the fancy production elements, just the small moments of magic between the characters in each scene.”

What was the best day of your life and why?

“The word ‘best’ is sort of paralyzing here when I try to think of one specific day. A really great day was my birthday two years ago, when I walked into my A Block class and they all sang happy birthday to me with this leftover Santa cake that someone brought from Ms. Canavan’s class. The frosting had melted and half of Santa’s face was drooping off, but it was one of those small moments where I really felt overwhelmed by kindness and love. Oh, yeah, and my wedding day.”

Ms. Scarpa believes in all of her students and cares about them like they were her own kids (a.k.a. Mr. Biggles). But seriously though, thank you Ms. Scarpa for doing this interview but more importantly, for being such a positive influence on all of us at TMHS. These years of our lives can be really challenging and stressful, but you make it tens times better and always let us know that we can do it and that you believe in us. Finally, another huge thank you to Ms. Scarpa for taking time out of her busy schedule to take part in this interview.