Take Five with Dr. Jackie Bach, Associate Professor of English Education in the School of Education
Editor’s Note: Take Five is a Q&A column featuring a faculty or staff member and their thoughts, ideas and contributions on all things related to LSU. In this month’s Take Five we sit down with Dr. Jacqueline ‘"Jackie” Bach, the Elena & Albert LeBlanc Associate Professor of English Education in the School of Education. Dr. Bach joined LSU in 2006 after earning her Ph.D. from Oklahoma State University. Her scholarship examines how young adult literature engages teachers and students in conversations about social issues, the ways in which popular culture informs (and might improve) pedagogy, and the preparation of secondary English/ Language Arts teachers. She is the co-editor for the “Engaging Texts” section of The Journal of Curriculum Theorizing and current director of Women’s and Gender Studies. She is a former high school English teacher.
What brought you to LSU?
I was at Oklahoma State finishing up my Ph.D. with a concentration in curriculum studies when I began interviewing for assistant professor positions. LSU piqued my attention, mainly because my faculty advisor, Dr. Hongyu Wang, studied under two faculty in LSU’s School of Education, Dr. Bill Doll and Dr. William Pinar—who pioneered LSU’s Curriculum Theory Project. Additionally, as many have said before, LSU is a beautiful campus and the faculty are wonderful. I have never felt boxed in to pursue one line of research, but rather felt like I could pursue what interested me. I also spent a lot of time in Florida when I was younger and as unconventional as this may sound, I wanted to be in a place where I could get a glass of sweet iced tea.
You taught high school English for five years, what prompted you to get your Ph.D.?
After five years in the classroom, I was really burned out and thought I could do a better job in preparing future teachers than how I was prepared. Plus, it was the right time in my life. My husband had just finished his Ph.D.
Could you talk a little bit about work/life balance during your time in graduate school and offer some words of advice for young families starting their careers or studies here at LSU who may also be juggling the demands of career and family?
In 2003, while in graduate school, I got pregnant with my son, Emery. I thought at the time, I could do it all—be a mother, be a student, be a wife, etc. But, after having a Cesarean Section, I had to withdraw from school in the middle of the semester. I vividly remember my doctor telling me, “There is no way you are going back to school for at least six weeks.” It was painful, but I needed to be told that. I did eventually graduate and moved to Baton Rouge in 2006. My son was three at the time. I am very lucky that my husband works from home, but there were many times that Emery sat through lectures in the back of the class or hung out in my office while I attended faculty meetings. My LSU colleagues have been very supportive of both my career and family.
To follow up your second question: What advice would I give to our faculty and/or graduate students with young families? Ask for help and accept it. LSU is a very supportive community in many, many ways.
You’ve been at LSU for almost 10 years and you, like us all, have witnessed an explosion of technology on campus. Which technology would you say was the biggest game changer in the classroom and how has that influenced your teaching?
Social Media. I never thought about the influence it could have on building a community nor how students use it to communicate. I teach a Pop Culture and Pedagogy class and over past five years I’ve seen an explosion of online platforms that teachers (and deans) are using to connect with their students, from DubSmash to Tumblr and Flickr. My students have also explored a variety of ways to host virtual classrooms.
Looking ahead, what do you hope to accomplish professionally?
I have never looked for opportunities to lead, but for some reason people think I have strong administrative skills. I participated in the SEC Leadership Development Program last year, which was a phenomenal experience. I learned what kind of leader I am, what makes successful leaders, and what kind of leadership opportunities fit me best. I have also had the privilege of serving as the director of Women’s and Gender Studies (WGS). I love being the director of WGS and am so thankful that the faculty thought this is something I could do, but I miss the classroom. I feel that after my term is over, I will be ready to go back to teaching.