#30Under30PHL - Jessica Waber
1. How old are you? 30.
2. What do you do? I’m a public school teacher in Philadelphia. Currently, I teach AP Literature, Reading, and Drama at Parkway Center City High School. (Go Bulldogs!) As this is a second career for me, I have zero seniority in the system and have been forced to move around between five schools in the last four years because of the turbulent situation that the School District of Philadelphia is in. The instability can be really stressful, but I can’t imagine doing anything else or working with any other population of students. There is not a day that goes by where I am not inspired and amazed by the youth of this city and my hardworking, persevering colleagues who are learning and teaching in conditions where so many things are often working against us.
3. What neighborhood in Philly do you call home? Rittenhouse.
4. What is your favorite thing right now about Philly? The energy. There always seems to be a buzz these days with all of the new pop-up beer gardens, parks, restaurants, and other urban developments. This is such an exciting time to be living in Philly.
5. What do you consider your greatest achievement thus far? I involved over 50 students at West Philadelphia High School in a pretty fabulous production of Romeo and Juliet. It was the school’s first production in over 15 years. I will never forget that experience or group of students.
6. If not yourself, who would you like to be? I always thought it’d be cool to be a movie director – like Kathryn Bigelow. Or an archeologist. The past is fascinating.
7. Your idea of happiness. Coffee, a croissant, good company, and fresh air. And new shoes.
8. Guiltiest pleasure? Peanut butter. Specifically Skippy. I eat it out of the jar. I also eat it on cookies. And crackers. And with cool whip. And I have an addiction to the peanut butter crunch topping at Igloo.
9. Favorite inspirational quote? And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it. – Roald Dahl
10. What do you appreciate the most in your friends? Their authenticity. My friends are really genuine individuals.
11. Favorite food in Philly? The salted caramel budino from Barbuzzo. Go get it right now if you haven’t tried it.
12. Favorite drink in Philly? The Heat from Sampan’s Graffiti Bar – tequila, grapefruit juice, and sriracha.
13. Favorite song right now? Latch by Disclosure and Sam Smith, Falling by Haim, and just saw Lykke Li at Union Transfer and am really loving her new album.
14. A book you plan on reading? Too many. I always have a stack on my night table. Piled to my left at this moment are This Is Where I Leave You, The Goldfinch, Dear Life, and Wild.
15. A book that powerfully impacted your life? The Norton Anthology of English Literature and The Bell Jar.
16. Name one historical figure you would like to have coffee with. Cleopatra, Amelia Earhart, or Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.
17. How do you like your coffee? Black.
18. Your main fault. I’m a worrier. I worry about everything.
19. What is your most prized material possession? Photographs of my family and friends.
20. Your biggest failure. Right out of college I was stuck working for an unpleasant boss. She treated me terribly and I was so naïve and timid I’d just keep smiling and gritting my teeth while she would chip away at me. After two years, I finally snapped in the office. I lost my cool, yelled, cried, acted like a lunatic, went all Jerry Maguire, and decided to quit my job. I don’t regret walking away from the situation, but I really regret losing control in the office and stooping to her level.
21. What you learned from that failure? To try not to let small-minded, competitive people get under my skin and push me until I break. I have learned to be much more direct, keep my cool under pressure, and to stand my ground.
22. What is your greatest fear? Losing people I love.
23. Where will you be in 30 years? I have no idea and that is what makes life so exciting.
24. Favorite thing to do on a Sunday? Get up really early and read a magazine over coffee, have brunch, and roam around the city. Except if it’s snowy and cold. Those days require as much staying bed as possible, along with delivery and lots of TV.
25. Best date spot? Anywhere dark and loungy.
26. What does happiness mean to you? Being completely content and immersed in the present moment.
27. Twitter or Instagram? Instagram.
28. Describe Philly in a Tweet. I don’t know how to Tweet.
29. Who should everyone follow on Instagram? @thefatjewish. He makes me giggle. Also @purebarrephilly – best workout in the city!
30. Pats or Genos? Cheese fries at Pats.
#30Under30PHL is a month-long series highlighting Philadelphia’s most ambitious women. Created in collaboration with Femme & Fortune and Alex Kacala.