Catching Up With Jochman in Richmond, VA


P.Kevin Morley

Ms. Jochman with Glenn Close

Clare Ravizza, Staff Writer, Advanced Journalism

After living her whole life in the Midwest–growing up in Sheboygan, attending SNC and teaching ten years at NDA–English teacher Stefanie Jochman now teaches IB English at a private school in Richmond, Virginia.  One of her former students and yearbook staff members checked in on her adventures and experiences in Richmond.

Q: What is the most engaging part of your new school/job? What do you most enjoy? What is most difficult?

A: The most engaging part of my new school/job is, as it was at Notre Dame, the community. The students and colleagues I work with challenge me to be my best and to find new ways to teach my subject. Besides the people (who have been really kind and welcoming, often checking in to see how I’ve settled in to life in Richmond), I enjoy my schedule, which allows for a bit more time to plan and grade (and thus spend more after-school time exploring my new city), and some of the traditions at Trinity, like Morning Meeting, a daily gathering for announcements, and the Grand Illumination, a night where the campus Christmas lights are lit and the choirs and bands perform a holiday concert. I really like the schedule, but it’s also challenging. Since I don’t teach every class every day, it’s sometimes tough to make sure all four of my IB classes have had the same lesson!

Q: What is your favorite part of living in a historic city like Richmond? Is the culture very different from Green Bay/Midwest?


A: I think my favorite part of living in Richmond is the walkability of my neighborhood. In one direction, I can walk to a shopping/dining area like Madison’s State Street, and in another, I can walk to the art museum and historical society. There’s a branch of the library on the corner of my street, too! The weather is a bit warmer in the winter, so I can still go for walks in December and January, which has been very nice. Living in such a historic city, I feel like it’s my responsibility to learn about that history and make connections between that history and the literature my students are reading when I can. Now (and always) it’s important to learn from history, or we’re doomed to repeat it.

I’ve been happy to discover that people here are just as welcoming and friendly as they were in Green Bay. This is also a town that, like Wisconsin, likes an outdoor music festival and has a very active outdoor sport culture (though I’m not very involved in canoeing and climbing and whatnot–I’m an indoor kid!). One big difference is that, since the state doesn’t have its own football team, you find that people in Richmond are loyal to many different teams. When the Head of School calls for “bragging rights” on Monday mornings, I hear lots of different teams’ names shouted. Also, whereas it takes about 8 inches of “blowing and drifting” snow to shut down school in Green Bay, 2-3 inches or sometimes even the threat of snow can close things down in Richmond. Since it doesn’t snow as often, the city doesn’t have as much equipment to clear the snow, and, since it’s a little warmer, there are more chances of black ice when what melts during the daytime refreezes overnight.

Q. What type of literary events/opportunities have you been involved in since your move?

I’ve still been enjoying National Theater broadcasts, now at the Modlin Center at the University of Richmond. (BTW–Hamlet is airing in Green Bay at Bay Park Square again on March 8!), and I just went to a book talk on Saturday night with author and scholar Erica Dunbar about her book, Never Caught, the story of Ona Judge, one of George and Martha Washington’s slaves who escaped and was a fugitive for 50 years.

Shortly after moving to Richmond, I took the train to Washington, DC, for the National Book Festival, where I heard presentations from David McCullough and Roxane Gay, and in October, I attended the Library Awards of Virginia, where my favorite author, Adriana Trigiani, was the host, and novelist David Baldacci was honored with a lifetime achievement award. Former poet laureate Rita Dove also won an award for her poetry collection, and when I approached her for an autograph in my program, she complimented me on the bell sleeves of the dress I’d bought especially for the event. I felt pretty special!

I hope to take some students to hear from playwright Lynn Nottage at the University of Richmond in late February. I’m looking forward to once again serving as a Master Teacher at the Teaching Shakespeare Institute in July.


Q: I heard that you recently met Glenn Close, the “Gertrude” in the Hamlet we’ve been watching in IB English. How did that happen?

Glenn Close was a speaker at The Richmond Forum, a lecture series and a Richmond institution of sorts. Trinity has a special relationship with the forum; students at Trinity are pages for the forum; they gather audience questions and work as ushers throughout the evening, and a school family kindly and generously donates a block of tickets to the forum for students and faculty to attend. I put my name in for the Glenn Close forum raffle and won! She delivered a riveting presentation about her life and her family’s struggle with mental health issues. At the end of the night, our tickets allowed us the chance to meet and have a picture taken with Glenn Close. She was very kind, and when I told her that I was a teacher getting ready to teach some drama, she asked me which plays my students would be studying.