Jackie Jaap

Jaqueline “Jackie” Jaap is Professor Emerita of English at South Mountain Community College. She and Dr. Yvonne Montiel founded the Dynamic Learning Teacher Education Program, the first program in the district to have an articulated transfer agreement with Arizona State University’s College of Education.

From left: Yvonne Montiel, Frances Rodriguez, Brandon Gonzales, Jackie Jaap, interviewed Fall 2019

Jaap was born in 1940 and grew up on a farm in Omaha, Nebraska, where she spent her time riding horses and gardening.

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Her father was a farmer and the chairman of her local school board, and her mother was a teacher, making education central to Jaap’s life from a young age. While living on the farm, Jaap attended a one room rural school which had students from 1st to 8th grade. The students were very interactive in their learning experience and this would come to shape Jaap’s teaching philosophy.

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Afterwards Jaap went to University of Nebraska Lincoln (UNL) but took a break to teach kindergarten. Jaap later finished her education at Northern Arizona University, Arizona State University and the Sorbonne in Paris.

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Jaap taught English at ASU in the veteran’s program, but when the program “was no longer” she was left without a job. She earned her money by waiting tables, being a tour guide, and grading papers for the distance learning program at ASU. When Jaap applied to teach at Gateway Community College, she was told that South Mountain Community College was hiring. She decided to apply at the new campus.

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Jaap began teaching adjunct for SMCC’s English program before the campus was built. Her first classes took place at the Holy Family Church in the sanctuary or fellowship hall. One story she often tells has become the stuff of local legend. One day, Jaap arrived to teach her class to find an unexpected guest. Apparently, Holy Family was hosting a funeral later that day, but did not inform Jaap or SMCC administration. As students and Jaap arrived, they were greeted by an open casket holding a deceased church member.

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Jaap was eventually hired full time as an English Teacher. She immediately took to the enterprising spirit of the growing community college. In the 1990’s Jaap and Yvonne Montiel founded an innovative knowledge group that offered access to computers for their students through a partnership with Rio Salado College.

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Out of this partnership, the Dynamic Learning Group was founded, along with a lifelong friendship. The Dynamic Learning Group was intended to improve the learning conditions for students. Jaap started by having a sabbatical to go to Washington DC where she worked with the National Institutes of Health. With new knowledge on the science of learning and best practices, Jaap approached Chancellor Elsner after her sabbatical. They discussed their thoughts on how or what learning should be. Jaap and Montiel sat down and discussed their thoughts and research on learning. Both Yvonne and Jaap had the same goal, which was to improve the learning process, so they created the Dynamic Learning Group.

From left: Yvonne Montiel, Liz Warren, Lorraine Calbow, & Jackie Jaap in a meeting about the Dynamic Learning, 1992. Image provided by South Mountain Community College

Their main focus was to make the learning environment interactive and meaningful. The base of the DLG began with their Knowledge group in which the students would use computers and learn from each other. Many people in the community became very supportive for their group.

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Dynamic Learning started as a two semester program. The students completed projects and began to develop a new understanding for reading, writing, communicating, and using multimedia. Students worked on every aspect of their learning and so they knew each other well. This later led to Yvonne deciding to be part of the teacher education program. Most SMCC faulty embraced the program because many were from South Phoenix and Dynamic Learning helped reach out to and support bilingual students who lived in the area. Arizona State University came on board to participate in Dynamic Learning as it evolved into a four-semester program. Participating students were granted a direct transfer option to ASU as juniors upon completing the program. ASU was impressed with the abilities of SMCC students, since the students were prepared for academic life as a result of their Dynamic Learning training. As the program evolved, local high schools joined in, and Dynamic Learning expanded its reach to include student initiatives, like the campus recycling program. The program earned national recognition. In 2002, it was recognized by the U.S. Undersecretary of Education, Eugene Hickok.

Works Cited

  1. District Governing Board Minutes, June 24, 2014.

Student Researchers: Brandon Gonzales & Frances Rodriguez, Fall 2019
Faculty Co-Author: Summer Cherland