Margaret Pierce steps up as AP Psychology teacher

Colette Bernards, Contributor

Any student taking AP Psychology has probably noticed a new face at the front of their classroom. Originally coming to Jackson-Reed as a student teacher for AP U.S. History teacher Matthew Burgoyne, Margaret Pierce has now taken on the role as the new AP Psychology teacher. 

Pierce graduated from Washington University in Saint Louis with degrees in Political Science and Islamic Studies. Prior to working at Jackson-Reed, she worked at a consulting firm in communications. Pierce noted it was similar to teaching since her job was to make complex topics understandable and relatable to specific audiences. 

During the pandemic, she decided to switch to teaching after the worrying exodus of teachers. She said that she wants to have “a day-to-day impact with individuals.” 

Pierce, pronounced “purse”, explained that she is excited to work with teenagers because she believes high school is a great period of time to find one’s place in the world but recognizes it is also a very frustrating age; “I hear a lot from younger family members and friends about their disillusionment with the world right now and I want to help young students take on those challenges and grow in spite of them.” 

On top of that, Pierce thinks teaching should continue to modernize so that students have the right tools to handle the age of the internet; “Fundamental skills—such as writing, media literacy, and critical thinking—are vital for students’ success in a rapidly evolving digital world.”

So far, Pierce likes teaching Psychology. It’s given her an opportunity to reach out to friends of hers who work in the field to learn information applicable to social situations, school, and other areas. 

“It’s important to me to know the content I’m working with, so I’m really trying to learn everything I can,” Pierce said.

She reviewed the whole Psychology textbook over the break to plan effective lessons to prepare students for the AP test in May. Pierce has always liked learning about new subjects, which is one of the reasons she majored in political science in school. It allowed her to take other classes in a variety of subjects.

Pierce explained that she cannot thank Burgoyne and Ms. Chang enough for helping her and letting her learn in their classroom. 

“The whole social studies department has been wonderful, giving [me] access to their classrooms and time so I could ask any and all questions,” she said. According to Pierce, the school has been great, “nothing but accommodating and helpful as a young teacher gets off the ground.” However, she explained that no amount of sub or student teaching can prepare you for being a full-time teacher. “You really learn on the job.”

After this year, Pierce says she would be happy teaching anything, although she is drawn to social studies because of the freedom and the subject matter. For the most part, Pierce says she would be a “happy clam anywhere.” •