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The Student-Run News Site of Carnegie Vanguard High School

Upstream News

The Student-Run News Site of Carnegie Vanguard High School

Upstream News

Farewell to Jamie Ford

Ms.+Ford+in+Alaska
Jamie Ford
Ms. Ford in Alaska

Walking into Jamie Ford’s classroom, you might notice that there’s a large sticker of octopus tentacles behind her Smart TV. She says it’s her favorite animal: they’re intelligent enough to make plans and be cheeky with their keepers, they have three hearts, they change colors and patterns at will, and they do not like to be contained.

In the back, near the windows, you might also notice enclosures for other animals in the classroom: Foster the leopard gecko, Frank the bearded dragon, two turtles, and a Russian tortoise. When asked what her favorite plant is, she leans back to stare at the ceiling in indecision before finally settling on her current favorite, lemon bee balm.

Ford grew up in Midland and Odessa, where she often played and ran through woods near her house, collecting rocks, leaves and turtle shells. She graduated from high school in Fort Worth before going on to Tarleton State University.

Armed with a degree in Livestock Production, Ford quickly dove headfirst into a marine research program through the Student Conservation Association (SCA). She then spent the next few years in the Florida Keys as a research assistant surveying spiny lobster and queen conch populations.

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“I thought [about] how far we [could] get from a cow and still be with animals,” Ford said in a summary of this career decision.

She then worked at a firm that took government contracts concerning transport. Yet, Ford’s heart remained tethered to the natural world, drawing her back to the realm of wildlife conservation.

“At the time there was an organization called Friends of the National Zoo,” Ford said when asked her about her career as a zookeeper.

“It was a nonprofit support group. So, I actually started working with them first, but they were on site at the zoo. And my job was five houses. So I got to know the keepers and the staff and the curators and all the people there. I’m working with them. And when they were building a new exhibit, which is called the Kids’ Farm if you’ve ever been. It’s because my degree is Livestock Production and it was in Animal Science. They actually asked me if I was interested in moving over into that area and helping with it — so I just kind of — I was a part of the design team for the exhibit,” Ford said.

“And then [I] moved into being its title biologist — like a lead keeper for that area.”

Ford embarked on yet another chapter in her journey, this time as a zookeeper in Houston.

Here, amidst the lush landscapes and diverse habitats of Texas, she continued her mission of conservation and education. She had a way with the animals that didn’t like other keepers, other than one specific bird. At the Houston Zoo, she worked in the Children’s Zoo area with a variety of animals. One of her favorite things was, and is, helping people see the wonder in ordinary animals, like raccoons.

It was during her time in Houston that Ford turned over to education as part of her involvement with the SCA. Combining her wealth of knowledge, her passion for science, and her innate gift for inspiring others, she found fulfillment in the classroom like never before. She got her teacher’s certification and came to Carnegie 12 years ago.

One of her more obvious contributions in recent years is the Sky Prairie on the green roof.

“There hasn’t been irrigation on the roof for years, but bluebonnets and coreopsis are native plants suited to the Houston sun, so we’ll get to enjoy their blooms through the spring,” said Ford.

She also got our gym teachers certified as archery instructors through the Texas Parks and Wildlife courses, so for some time archery was part of our PE curriculum. She also took over coaching the girls’ cross country team from, English and photography teacher Rachel Bohenick, and she currently teaches four classes, with two of them being AP courses.

As an educator, Ford’s impact has been profound, shaping the minds and hearts of countless students over the years. Her dynamic teaching style, coupled with her genuine care for her students’ success, has left an indelible imprint on the fabric of Carnegie.

She says she came to teaching because she wanted to teach “what’s good science and what’s good policy” to tomorrow’s decision-makers. She keeps migrating back to education, despite an original childhood aspiration to become a veterinarian.

Whether dissecting sheep brains and pig kidneys in Anatomy & Physiology class, delving into the complexities of environmental science, or cultivating the gardens around school, Ford’s classes were always a source of inspiration and intellectual stimulation.

Her favorite outdoor space in Houston is the Houston Arboretum: it’s right next to 610 but the highway feels a world away when you’re in it. Her all-time favorite park is Texas’ Pinellas Falls, with its swimming, birds, and beauty. She likes hiking the most, though.

In her previous jobs, Ms. Ford has worked with Texas Parks and Wildlife, but now she’ll be working with the organization, in “interpretive services” — that is, delivering information to the public. She says she’ll have 12 parks to take care of, rotating between them to write signs in parks. She’s very excited to work with the government administration.

She dearly loves her students, and she says that while she’s very enthusiastic about working with Texas Parks and Wildlife, she wouldn’t have left without the new HISD policies. She says they make her teaching style difficult and compromise what she likes about the Carnegie administration, which is the feeling of being heard.

As the academic year draws to a close, Carnegie Vanguard High School bids farewell to one of its most beloved educators, Jamie Ford. A cornerstone of the science department, Ford’s departure marks the end of an era, leaving behind a lasting impact in a legacy of passion, dedication, and transformative teaching. Her journey from the depths of marine research to the vibrant halls of high school classrooms is a testament to her unwavering commitment to education and her adventurous spirit.

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About the Contributor
Nicole Rodil Suarez, Photo Editor
Nicole Rodil Suarez is a current senior here at CVHS. Some tasks that she enjoys doing out of school are reading, specifically fiction, baking with her little sister, cooking with her mom, and watching Star Wars with her dad. Nicole has traveled all around the world, and her favorite place she has lived in so far has been Panama.
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  • J

    Joseph MutagayaMar 4, 2024 at 2:10 pm

    I’m gonna miss Ms. Ford so much! I’m glad you took the time to craft this wonderful tribute to her and her impact at CVHS!

    Reply
  • N

    Nadia TalankerMar 4, 2024 at 1:34 pm

    one of my favorite teachers ever!! i’m so excited for her to begin this chapter of her career, i know she’s going to love it and excel!!! go ms ford!!!

    Reply