Tidd found many who inspired her

Iola High School senior Jessica Tidd is one of the valedictorian candidates for Saturday's graduation.



May 13, 2021 - 9:22 AM

Jessica Tidd Photo by Vickie Moss / Iola Register

Many people inspired Jessica Tidd.

First, her family.

Her mother, Julie, was a band director. She passed away when Jessica was 9, but left a lasting legacy by instilling in her children a love of education and music.

Her father, David, farms and is retired from the U.S. Post Office. He’s taught Jessica the value of hard work. Jessica also is impressed by the commitment of her stepmother, Laura, toward her church, family and community.

Then, there are her five older siblings. They all strove toward academic success. Three were named valedictorians at Iola High School.

Jessica is following a combination of all these footsteps as she prepares to graduate Saturday as a valedictorian candidate.

“I want to make my parents proud and I want colleges to know I’m a hard worker,” she said. “And if I’m hard-working, employers will favor that, too. Also, I just take pride in what I do.”

WHEN HER mother died, Jessica was nearing the end of third grade.

Her teacher, Audrey Gardner, consoled her.

She remembers one day when Ms. Gardner sent her to the office. When she came back, all her classmates had signed a card. 

Ms. Gardner passed away a couple of years ago, but her kindness left a lasting impression on the young girl.

Now, she wants to be a teacher.

“After my mom passed away, my teachers were there for me to make sure I was doing alright and also to make sure I got a good education. Many of my teachers had a huge impact on me.”

This past year, Jessica has worked as an intern for Tiffany Riley’s second grade class at Jefferson Elementary. She also works with second-graders at SAFE BASE, the after-school program, where she was nominated by her students as Staff Member of the Week. 

It’s been a good experience, and helped her see what kind of teacher she may be.

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