Jessie Wise Bio

Jessie Wise Professional Experience

I am a home education consultant, speaker, and writer; my recent appearances include workshop sessions for home school conventions in Virginia, California, West Virginia, North Carolina, and elsewhere. I am also the co-author of The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home (with co-author Susan Wise Bauer), published by W.W. Norton in July, 1999. Until my consulting load grew too heavy, I tutored privately in English and mathematics. I also served as the principal of a private cooperative school for two years, a position which included both administrative duties and the teaching of elementary classes on all subjects. I taught three children at home from elementary school through high school; all three completed college degrees, and two went on to complete graduate degrees as well. Before educating my own children, I taught preschool at a private school in New Orleans. Over the years I’ve also taught second, fourth, fifth, and sixth grade classes at public schools in three states; Virginia, Tennessee, and Louisiana. For a short period, I also taught the children of international hospital workers in Haiti. I am currently at work on my own home school book — the story of my journey into home education.


I graduated magna cum laude from Carson-Newman College in Tennessee in 1959; I was a member of the Mortar Board Honor Society and of Pi Kappa, the national honor debate fraternity. Since then, I’ve taken courses for state teacher certification at Tulane University in New Orleans, the College of William & Mary in Virginia, and the University of Virginia. I have completed teacher workshops on learning disabilities, and have worked with dyslexic students. I’ve also been trained in school administration (courses taken in Pensacola, Florida). Recently, I’ve completed a series of seminars in parenting skills which I use as a resource when advising home-schooling parents and students.


I grew up in isolated rural Virginia, raised by elderly relatives who were subsistence farmers.  We had no indoor bathroom, and we travelled to town only twice a year — for Christmas presents and spring shoes. I was the valedictorian of my 1955 high school class, and the only girl to go on to college. I met my husband Jay in college, and taught school for six years while he went through his medical training. After he finished medical school, Jay went into the Navy. Over the next few years we lived in New Orleans, Tennessee, Maine, Virginia, Boston, and Puerto Rico. We also spent a short time at the Albert Schweitzer Memorial Hospital in Haiti, and decided to sponsor the education of two Haitian boys (both are now American citizens and successful professionals). In Boston we adopted our youngest daughter, a biracial child. When Jay got out of the service, we moved back to the Virginia farm where I grew up. Jay began a rural general practice and we started homesteading — we raised livestock, killed our own pigs, and had an enormous garden, while I taught our three children at home. Over the years we’ve given a temporary home to numerous people — including a South American doctor who wanted to learn English, and ex-CIA officer who needed a place for his entire family, ex-flower children, and students of all kinds. Now that my children are grown, I serve as an elder in my local church, assist my husband in his second career (as an artist!), and help educate my grandchildren.

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