Jeanette Roach National Massage Therapy Teacher of the Year 2018

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Jeanette Roach
Massage Therapy Teacher of the Year 2018

Jeanette Roach is a lead instructor, anatomy instructor and curriculum designer at Irene’s Myomassology Institute in Southfield, Michigan.  As an integral part of the school’s faculty, she is always ready, willing and able to lend her hands and knowledge to continuously improve the massage program.  Not only is the school grateful for her dedication, her students are forever touched by her presence in the classroom.

In 1997, Jeanette enrolled in Irene’s therapeutic massage program to satisfy her quest for knowledge and to pursue a new career she hoped she would love.  Little did she know at the time that her new career would be much more than that of a therapist. Upon graduation, she volunteered as a classroom apprentice under Irene herself.  Jeanette found her greatest mentor in the school’s founder, Irene Gauthier, who inspired the classroom with stories and knowledge about the human body.  Irene taught students to educate clients, bringing them awareness to self and facilitating healing of the human condition.

Conveying information to students came naturally to Jeanette as she thrived in the classroom.  Having completed the school’s teacher training program, she was promoted to assistant instructor in less than two years and given her own class as an instructor two years after that.  Today, she teaches basic hands-on technique, anatomy, and kinesiology.  She also instructs students in therapeutic subjects such as range of motion, critical thinking, gait and structural evaluation.  Her commitment to her students’ education inspires her to create a variety of approaches to help them learn.  She uses humor and music by writing anatomical lyrics to the tune of popular songs.  If a student is struggling, she does not hesitate to spend time tutoring them.  When she discovers a student feeling overwhelmed, she sits with them, listens, dries their tears and finds the right words to reassure them.


When a student is struggling with their studies, Jeanette finds a way to help them understand the material.  She has spent countless hours rewriting popular songs with lyrics to highlight her anatomy teachings.  She is often seen boldly singing and acting out her songs in front of her class.  She mastered Anatomy Pie to the tune of American Pie, “Wave bye, bye with extensor carpi. . .” If a student is stressed, Jeanette always takes to time to listen to their concerns and finds a way to help them feel cared for.

Reading and learning has always been a passion for Jeanette, especially history and science. Some of her earliest memories are of reading in the toy box at the age of three to escape the antics of her younger brother. She recalls reading the encyclopedia at age 12 because she had already read all the books on her shelf. Then she moved on to her mother’s nursing dictionary.

In the late 1980’s Jeanette’s interests turned to how humans healed from illness and injury when there was no modern medicine.  What herbs and holistic methods did people use before prescriptions were readily available?  This led her to study herbology and aromatherapy.  She began attending health fairs, which inevitably led to her first massage.  What an eye-opening experience!  Jeanette could tell the therapist was enjoying the experience as much as she did.  Thus, she discovered it was possible to love one’s job!

Several people recommended Irene’s Myomassology Institute for an education.  While visiting the school, she could not comprehend why massage would need to be a full year to learn.  After attending the first day of school, she realized she would be learning much more than how to rub someone’s back.

Academically, the program was challenging yet achievable.  Massage on the other hand, did not come as easily.  At one point she felt like quitting, but was determined to finish something positive in her life.  It took 35 weeks before Jeanette finally felt a muscle release.  Around that time, she made the connection of origin, insertion and action.  The bony landmarks became things to palpate, not just words to memorize.  She learned over and over that massage is not simply a physical application; it is spiritual and emotional experience as well.

The obviously important part of the learning process was getting students to remember information.  Jeanette learned that one of the most effective ways to do that was to get the students to laugh.  She enjoyed finding ways to use humor and music in the classroom.  She developed songs about anatomy to sing in class. This was first inspired by the proprioceptor Golgi tendon organs, which fit nicely into a Beach Boys song.  A class favorite is “Anatomy Pie” which mentions various muscles and movements.  Students have told her they cannot hear the popular version of a song without singing the anatomy version.

In Jeanette’s own words, “Every classroom is different, every student has different needs.  Yet there are similarities as well.  Each person wants to be heard. Each student wants their question acknowledged.  I encourage students to live both in and outside of the box, finding ways that work for them and sharing it.  Often a new way of remembering information comes out of that practice.”

After her graduation from massage school, Jeanette successfully passed the National Certification Exam in Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCTMB).  When the Massage Therapy Body of Knowledge (MTBOK) was published she poured over its content.  She passed the Massage and Bodywork Licensing Exam (MBLEx) with the highest score in the history of the school!  She carefully reviewed the Entry-Level Analysis Project (ELAP) to assure the school’s program included its recommended content.  She is a member of the Federation of State Massage Therapy Board’s (FSMTB) Examination Development Committee, and enthusiastically attends the numerous professional massage conferences around the country.  Now Jeanette is proud to receive the Massage Teacher of the Year award from the World Massage Festival.

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