Journey to the classroom


“I’ve found that the students are very quick to argue with me and with each other. Sometimes, we gotta move on,” Levy said, “But I’d rather have that, than, [me] just talking and nobody really has any response to it, or to each other.”

Karen Lee, Staff Writer

Switching careers after a long time can be difficult. There are so many factors that could hold you back or demotivate you, there can be concerns about age. 

After working as a professional writer for over 20 years and writing for famous media companies, Rochelle Levy became a teacher approximately eight years ago. However, before working as a teacher, she worked in the media. 

“I was a writer, a professional writer, [and an] editor for a very long time,” Levy said. “I started out in radio, on air in the DC area. I grew up in Maryland.” 

She later moved to Los Angeles, where she worked for over 20 years. 

“I was the radio columnist at Billboard magazine, I worked at Us magazine, I worked at the American Film Institute for seven years,” Levy said. “I worked at NBC, and at American Zoetrope, which is Francis Ford Coppola’s production company. I was very involved in television and movies. I also worked in corporate communications, heading up to editorial teams.” 

However, she explained that she always knew that she had wanted to teach, and later went through a career switcher program around eight years ago. She has taught at Falls Church High School for six years and is now an English teacher at Jefferson. 

“Employees can see a posting of the jobs that will be available at other FCPS schools [for] the next year,” Levy said. “When I saw the posting for Jefferson, I was very interested and immediately submitted my application for that.” 

After going through the rigorous hiring process, she was hired to teach at Jefferson. 

“I’d been back twice for interviews, and I really was so excited about the opportunity to teach here,” Levy said. “When I got the email saying you’ve been hired,  I was ecstatic about it.” 

Levy said that teaching here is very different from many other high schools. 

“The students are very kind and polite, at least that’s been my experience,” Levy said. “To see that in the classroom, that kind of interest, curiosity and engagement has been much of what I went into teaching for, to engage with those kinds of students.” 

She explained how she understands what it feels like to be staring at a blank page and to think, “I don’t know where to begin right now.” 

“I’m glad I waited to teach, because I’m able to bring all of this real world experience to the classroom,” Levy said. “What I’ve learned is [that] there’s really no reason [to] think that somebody at 16, 17 years old should know what they want to do for their life. You can know what you want to do at that point in your life, but it’s not like you should feel locked in. How can you possibly know at this age before you’ve been out there in the world and seeing what interests you? What makes you feel like getting up in the morning? And that you feel like you’re actually affecting other people’s lives in some way?”