Class Act: Spanish teacher Jessica MacMurtrie


Caroline Pressler

Get to know Spanish teacher Jessica MacMurtrie!

Grace Rustay and Sierra Ondo

From Royal Oaks, Michigan, to Segovia, Spain, Jessica MacMurtrie has traveled almost 9,000 miles around the globe before settling down to teach Spanish II at St. John’s.

MacMurtrie’s passion for Spanish began during her first year in college. After falling in love with the language, she spent a semester abroad in Segovia, Spain. She enjoyed her time in Segovia so much that she returned to the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid to finish her Master of Arts degree. During her time in Spain, she privately tutored English to native Spanish speaking students. 

“The American Council on the Teaching on Foreign Languages is the learning guide we follow in all language teaching,” MacMurtrie said. “It makes teaching a second language pretty similar.”

In a country where the average citizen eats 110 pounds of meat every year, MacMurtrie found being a vegetarian in Spain to be a little difficult. Luckily, she discovered Manchego cheese, which made living in Spain a little more bearable. After many happy years of living in Spain, her husband’s job brought them to Houston.

After moving to Houston, MacMurtrie taught Spanish at St. Francis Episcopal and led a team of seventh graders to Nationals in the National Geographic GeoChallenge, a competition where students engineer simple solutions to global problems. Despite the competition being a lot of work, she enjoyed the experience and regrets that National Geographic does not have any high school competitions.

One of MacMurtrie’s favorite parts about teaching at SJS is interacting with students. 

“The students are well prepared and speak on a great level,” she said.  

According to Language Department Head Aline Means, MacMurtrie has been a valuable addition to the St. Johns community.

“Ms. MacMurtrie comes from an independent school here in Houston, so she has a lot of knowledge of how the independent school world works,” Means said. “She also has this amazing background in Spanish. She has lived abroad herself, and she is super interested in reaching her students, finding out how students learn, and meeting them where they are and their needs.”