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The Paw Print

News for Wildcats, by Wildcats.

The Paw Print

News for Wildcats, by Wildcats.

The Paw Print

King puts hobbies to work through storied teaching career

Jo Brown
Chemistry teacher, Ms. King, has been teaching for 25 years and 20 years at West. She is also one of the sponsors for the Creative Wildcat Writing Club. Despite being a chemist teacher, she loves to read and write.

Jessica King, a chemistry teacher at West, has been teaching for 25 years. However, she wasn’t planning on teaching as a career, and truly wanted to be a pharmacist going into her college career.

King took chemistry and biology classes in college and enjoyed those classes, but what changed her mind about being a pharmacist was when she applied to the University of Iowa Pharmacy School.

Because she was an out-of-state applicant, she didn’t get in.

The university told her that she had to come on campus for two years and then reapply because she would have a better chance of getting in.

However, by the time the two years were up, she already had her degree, leading her to change her mind about becoming a pharmacist. She had found her calling as a aspiring chemistry teacher.

And although King is a chemistry teacher of 25 years, she has also always loved writing and reading.

In fact, she was the editor of her high school yearbook and won an English award.

Now that she is within a few years of retiring, she notes that she is getting to pick a sort-of “second career,” so she no longer has to put some of her hobbies aside.

With this new approach, King has really taken to combining her experience in the teacher role to her long-standing passion of writing.

How, you ask?

Along with Ms. Ruff, King is one of the sponsors for the Creative Wildcat Writing Club here at Normal West.

She became one of the sponsors because of a student named Alex McFadden who she had in class last school year. McFadden and King often discussed the need for some type of creative writers club.

And from those conversation, the Creative Wildcat Writing Club was born.

Overall, King enjoys writing, reading, and traveling.

“I have actually been in all 50 states except Alaska and Hawaii,” King claims.

She also spends time with her dogs, kayaking, and biking.

There aren’t any particular hobbies she wants to pick up in the future because she wants to, “spend more time with the hobbies [she] has.”

“School stuff gets in the way, so I don’t get to spend as much time doing [the] things that I like. And we live in Illinois, so biking [and] kayaking, you can’t do that all year round,” she adds.

Aside from helping begin the writing club as well as continuing her biking and kayaking hobbies, King also has begun to write her very own novel.

While researching her family history, King found that her great-great-grandfather and her husband’s great-great-grandfather were both on a murder trial together in the early 1900s. This finding caused her to research the murder trial and everything affiliated with it.

Her research led her to branch into local history, where she learned about various people whom she found to be interesting but not well known. Her research caused an inspiration for King to start writing a historical fiction novel (currently unnamed) because she wanted these newly discovered stories out there for others to enjoy.

King’s book will reveal the real events, but she’s still taking creative liberties with the novel: “.. Knowing the real events that happened, but then being able to creatively think about what those people were thinking, like why did they did what they did and filling in the other things we don’t know for sure.”

For example, some of the stories are about unsolved murders, so King gets to discuss what she thinks might’ve happened.

King’s novel’s chapters will consist of different stories from the events. The story she is farthest with is about a woman who came to live in Champaign, “and earned her living by nefarious means,” King explains.

In the novel, King writes about why this character ended up making the choices she did, and the things that happened throughout her life. The woman was heavily covered in the local papers, and King was enthralled with her story while reading them, so she’s focused on her.

King does not outline as much, but does her research and notes and references it while free writing: “Part of the problem that I have is that certain aspects will jump out at me and I’ll start writing, but then I get inspired to write different parts, and I have to fill in the gaps… The story kind of unfolds as I’m writing,” King elucidates.

King’s novel has been writing the novel for 2 years–10 chapters in one book and a few chapters in others.

The book is still in the works (about a third of the way complete), and she doesn’t have a set date on when it will be published, but she does has a writing group she meets with to keep her on track.

“I get to write and research a lot in the summer, and I get to make a lot of progress, but during the school year it’s kind of slow,” she explains.

King hopes her story inspires students to continue to do something creative, or something they are passionate about throughout their lives, even if they don’t do it as a career: “There was a big gap in time– from when I was in high school to just a few years ago — when I didn’t write. Now I wish I had kept with it during all those years.”

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