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Congratulations to Jessica Wood, Recipient of the 2021 Brooks Thomas Exemplary Service Award

EL Education is pleased to announce that Jessica Wood, Associate Director of Experiential Marketing, has been recognized as the 2021 Brooks Thomas Exemplary Service Award winner!

The EL Education Board of Trustees endows the Brooks Thomas Exemplary Service Award to recognize and celebrate both the individual recipient of that year and the contributions of all staff to furthering the work and mission of EL Education. Jessica was selected by a committee of staff peers whose work is grounded in the following language from the original award description:

The Brooks Thomas Exemplary Service Award honors EL Education employees who exemplify the qualities and character of our founding trustees and illustrate our commitment to serve as crew, not passengers. They demonstrate excellence, collaboration, and perseverance. Their contributions have exceeded expectations to enhance our mission.

Jessica’s efforts truly shine a light on some of the most mission-illuminating work at EL Education.

Prior to joining EL Education, Jessica was an outstanding educator with The Springfield Renaissance School, one of our network school partners. Since joining our Crew in 2014, she has worked tirelessly in service of schools and students. In 2019, Jess began to chart a path for experiential marketing here at EL Education as the creative director and producer behind some of the most inspiring, edifying, and motivating moments in our movement, from designing and directing the Student Advisory Council, to leading national events like Better World Day and National Conference. Jessica’s efforts truly shine a light on some of the most mission-illuminating work at our organization.

Below are excerpts from Jessica’s nomination letters that capture some of the qualities of her work and character that align deeply with the intent of this award:

  • National Conference (ELNC) became a Virtual Summit. We worried it wouldn’t be dynamic. But in part because of Jessica’s excellence, collaboration, and perseverance, Virtual Summit was filled with the same spirit as ELNC. She has worked to center diverse voices and equity topics more and more each year. She solicits and takes feedback from her collaborators with openness and grace, making the necessary changes. She’s thinking in innovative ways about how to take what we’ve learned from different formats and partner input to move into the next phase.
  • All you have to do is watch Jessica work with students to understand how deeply committed she is to EL’s mission and to the spirit of Crew. She is a teacher through and through–and an incredibly masterful one at that. Watch her give students feedback, raising the quality of their work and deepening their excitement about contributing at the same time. It’s amazing and I learn from her every time I watch her work with students. She demonstrates such a deep belief in kids and a deep belief in EL Education that the outcome she gets with students never disappoints.
  • In my role, I’m often seeking to understand the reasons people join our movement to transform education. When I have the chance to ask, they almost always point to the student and educator voices and the stories of their remarkable achievements. Those stories epitomize our impact on so many in our community. Whenever you see or hear a student or teacher voice lifting the EL Education mission, it doesn’t take much digging to find Jessica Wood building the platform beneath them, clearing obstacles before them, and providing support behind them. She is the link between our organization and hundreds of student ambassadors and advisors and their families, from Detroit to San Diego. She is the relationship holder for just as many educators who breathe life into the EL Education mission in writing, videos, on conference stages, in grant applications, award nominations, and in classrooms and communities across the country.

Elevating and amplifying student voice has been a throughline of Jessica’s work at EL, from her work on Models of Excellence to Better World Day and National Conference. With that said, perhaps the most important contribution to our organization is her work forming and guiding the Student Advisory Council. She has been an advisor and advocate for these talented youth and has ensured that EL Education remains attuned and accountable to the people our work impacts most directly–students. Congratulations again to Jessica Wood, recipient of the 2021 Brooks Thomas Exemplary Service Award!

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