Jernigan Brings New Perspective to Student Teaching


Jernigan and his fiancé Hannah share a laugh during their engagement photo-shoot. Hannah, a Denver native, met Jernigan when they were both at Harding University. “We never really pictured ourselves staying in Little Rock long term, but not many people leave Children’s because they like it so much, and there’s some good schools in the district that a lot of people don’t leave,” Jernigan said. “It’s nice for us because it’s a neutral ground between our two families; it doesn’t feel like we’re picking a family if we moved to one place or another [Nashville or Denver].” (Photo courtesy of Seth Jernigan)

Walking past Dorer’s room on any given day, you might mistake his student teacher, Seth Jernigan, for the AP World History teacher himself. Both men share blue eyes, blond hair, and a tall stature. However, Dorer will claim that he is “definitely the better dresser,” and Mr. Jernigan will insist that he has better taste in music, “All he [Mr. Dorer] likes is the 90s. He doesn’t know anything outside of 90s grunge rock.”

Though the two may share similarities, Jernigan has grown into his own with the mentorship of Dorer.

“Mr. Dorer really eased me into it instead of being like ‘alright you’re the teacher now’ and just throwing me into it. He would teach a lesson or two and then have me teach the next two periods of it,” Jernigan said. “I don’t think I could have gotten a better cooperating teacher to work with as far as being reasonable, but also having high expectations.”

Jernigan didn’t plan to end up at Central. In fact, he didn’t plan to end up in Arkansas. The Nashville native originally planned to attend the University of Tennessee at Knoxville after finishing high school, but instead ended up choosing Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas.

“I chose Harding because it was far enough away from home that I couldn’t come home every weekend, but not so far that if I needed to get back for some reason I couldn’t get back in a reasonable amount of time,” Jernigan said. “I was initially kind of turned off to the Harding thing because I graduated with 56 students and 13 of us went to Harding, so that’s a pretty big percentage of a small class, and I was like ‘oh it’s just going to be like going to the 13th grade,’ but I had a lot of good times at Harding.”

Jernigan would have attended UT Knoxville, but his parents were not keen on him attending a school that had a large Greek life community. Harding University was more similar to the school Jernigan attended in high school because both institutions were Christian based.

“The environment that those things [fraternities] usually cultivate is not one that my parents really wanted me to be a part of, so I’m thankful for that because I think I did a lot better in school because I wasn’t distracted with all of those things,” Jernigan said.

He ended up at Central for his student teaching period through his uncle Coach Larry Siegel. Though Jernigan was prepared to teach, he was not prepared for the new environment her would experience at Central.

“One thing I regret about Harding is that coming to Central I didn’t have a lot of experience with diversity. That’s one thing I’m very thankful about being at Central is I get to interact with a very diverse student population. That’s something I wish my two former schools would work on,” Jernigan said. “One of the beauties of public school is that everyone can come and be a part, which is not necessarily the same thing with a private school.”

Besides the increased levels of diversity he found, Jernigan was also surprised by what he still had left to learn about history.

“There’s a lot of things that I’m learning along with the students because so much of the world history I was taught in high school and college was western focused and Euro centric,” Jernigan said. “I didn’t know a whole lot about stuff that went on in the east, so I had to do a lot of reading and studying along with them.”

Jernigan has also had to embrace his new teaching identity since coming to school this fall, but he has grown to like it.

“I thought that I would be cooler for a little longer than I was. I realized very quickly that just because of the fact that people call me ‘Mr.,’ and I am identified as a teacher; anything I do is not cool,” Jernigan said. “So I really had to lean into that and be like ‘alright well they don’t think I’m cool, so I’m just going to do cringey stuff all the time like whip (a popular dance move) in class just to make them squirm.”

When he’s not messing with his students, Jernigan spends time with his fiancé Hannah, a pediatric ICU nurse at Children’s hospital. Currently, they are going on apartment hunting adventures for after they get married and venturing into the world of cooking.

“She’s teaching me how to cook because I don’t know how. The other night we cooked for my aunt and uncle. We made parmesan chicken stuffed with mozzarella with baked green beans and pasta. It was incredible,” Jernigan said. My aunt told me after we made that dinner ‘You’re going to get fat when you guys get married if y’all are cooking this every night’.”

Jernigan also runs a music blog where he writes about music acts he has seen and new trends in music, like the return of vinyl records.

“I made everything private because my sophomores found it and were reading me my own blog, and it was the worst thing that ever happened to me.”

He also likes to write about some of his favorite musicians, like The Eagles and John Mayer, and other lesser-known artists.

“I wrote about a guy named Steve Moakler I followed since he was not very popular to where he’s now more popular, and he played Sticky’s downtown recently,” Jernigan said. “I got to talk to him for like thirty minutes after his show.”

Not only can Jernigan write about other musicians, but he is also musically talented himself on the guitar. Right now he’s learning his and his fiancé’s song on guitar called “If We Were Vampires” by Jason Isbell and the 400 unit.

The chorus of the song goes like this: “It’s knowing that this can’t go on forever. Likely one of us will have to spend some days alone. Maybe we’ll go forty years together, but one day I’ll be gone or one day you’ll be gone.”

Sadly, Jernigan’s last day at Central is December 8. But, after he graduates on December 16, he hopes to come back and sub at Central in the spring and apply for a full time teaching job next year.

“I’ll be certified in social sciences so I can teach history, economics, government, psychology, geography, all that kind of stuff. My ideal would be to teach a history and a government class,” Jernigan said. “I like the flexibility of incorporating current events in government.”