Ever since she was young, Dr. Zema L. Jordan has loved English, writing and language. She was driven to help others find that same passion, and found education to be the perfect way to do so. She understood everything the teacher was talking about through writing notes to be sure she would remember what the teacher said. She always knew she wanted to teach, and thinks that sometimes your elementary teachers inspire you in some way. Although you’re only 5 or 6 years old, they leave an impression on you for life. The youngest of eight children, Dr. Jordan grew up in a private school that was a part of a college, and she was always on campus with students and participating in plays. Her college friends were her audience.
Dr. Jordan’s first position in the field was as an instructor of English at Liberty High School from 1953 to 1954, followed by instructor of English and part-time guidance counselor at Wilson Junior High School from 1954 to 1964 and instructor of English at Southwestern High School from 1964 to 1968. She then advanced to become the head of the English department at Farwell Junior High School from 1968 to 1975 and the administrative unit head at Richard Middle School from 1976 to 1977, both in Detroit. Today, Dr. Jordan holds the positions of part-time English instructor at Wayne County Community College since 1969, administrative unit head at Von Steuben Middle School since 1977, and curriculum consultant at the Professional Growth Center of Detroit Public Schools and Wayne State University since 1980. Previously, she also taught at community colleges part-time during the evenings, and directed seven school plays in South Carolina.
To prepare for her endeavors, Dr. Jordan earned a Bachelor of Arts from Tennessee Agricultural and Industrial State University, now known as Tennessee State University, and a PhD and Master of Education from Wayne State University. She also became affiliated with prominent professional organizations such as the Metropolitan Detroit Reading Council, the Michigan Council of Teachers of English, the Metropolitan Detroit Alliance of Black School Educators, the Organization School Administrators and Supervisors (OSAS) and the TESOL International Association, among others. Furthermore, Dr. Jordan has been involved as a volunteer leader of the Junior Great Books Discussion Group since 1983, as well as a member of the Adult Great Books Discussion Group from 1965 to 1981 and advisor for Top Teens of America, and has contributed myriad articles to professional journals throughout her career.
In light of her achievements, Dr. Jordan was listed in the World’s Who’s Who of Women in 1984, the International Who’s Who of Education in 1987 and the Poetic Voices of America in 1994. Likewise, she was also listed in the third volume of Men and Women of Distinction, the Dictionary of International Biography and the International Who’s Who of Intellectuals. Notably, Dr. Jordan was also selected for inclusion in the 20th edition of Who’s Who in the Midwest.
When Dr. Jordan has free time, she enjoys playing piano, reading and exercising. She grew up on a farm, so she has been exercising since she was 3 years old. Her routine includes elements of weightlifting, yoga, tai chi, qigong and belly dancing, and she walks two miles three times a week at her local fitness gym. Dr. Jordan hopes to be remembered as someone who inspired her students to strive to do the greatest good for the greatest number of people.
As someone who inspired her students to strive to do the greater good for the greatest number of people as they move into adulthood, Dr. Jordan wants them to know that they should think about how they could use their profession to help others. She also wants her students to know to not be satisfied unless they have put forth their best effort. If you’re in a position to teach, make sure you teach to your best ability. Just because no one may evaluate your teaching, do your best always. Pass your best on to the young people you are going to work with during your lifetime.