Pensacola People to Know: Jay McElroy

This is the second edition of our new feature, Pensacola People to Know! Every so often, I am going to share a Pensacola Person to know with you. Each week I share our own opinions with you and I thought it would be fun to bring in some other opinions! Are you a Pensacola Person to Know or do you want to nominate someone? Let us know!

I am excited to introduce my pal Jay to you. Jay is a middle school teacher and is owner and operator of Life of the Party Mobile DJ Services. You might recognize his name because he has written some guest posts for us in the past. He shared his experience on the Olin Marler, a dolphin cruise, and also shared his favorite place to watch the Blue Angel beach air show.

Favorite playground or park? Mine or the kids??? I grew up over on Homewood Road, across the street from Scenic Heights Elementary, so I have always had a soft spot for Hitzman Optimist park (although they desperately need better restrooms). Now they have put in a disc golf course too, and I am looking forward to taking the kids over there to play!

The kids absolutely LOVE Perdido Kids Park (Jill calls it Princess Park because to her it looks like a castle) and Benny Russell Park over in Pace. They both have awesome play structures, but Benny Russell has more shaded areas.

Favorite place for a night out? A night out? What’s that? No…really. With my wife, Amber, working weekday evenings teaching, and me DJing weekends, we don’t get many nights out. We do like taking the kids to the movies or just out for pizza.

When it rains, what do you like to do with your family? We love to play board games! Some favorites are Sorry, Candyland, and Trouble, but any game that Jill (age 4) can play too is fine with us! We also like piling into our king size bed and watching a movie all cuddled up.

What local favorite do you want every new parent to know about? New parents as in with babies, or new parents as in new to the area? I don’t know from baby stuff, but for the folks with kids the ages of mine or older, I’d say 32 Degrees frozen yogurt by Cordova Mall. I know it’s a chain, and the kids love getting to make their own and add their favorite toppings! I would also say the parks I mentioned before, especially the disc golf at Hitzman.

What is your favorite Pensacola treat? I love the burgers at McGuire’s, the seafood nachos at Flounders, and dipped soft serve cones at the DQ on Scenic Highway!

When you want to escape Pensacola, where do you go for a daytrip or an overnighter? We don’t get away often, but we did love going to New Orleans! I love the history of the city and the kids love beignets and the French Market. The aquarium is great to get out of the heat, and riding the trolley was a big thrill for JT. Years ago when I was in the USAF and stationed in Panama City, I used to love to go to Seaside. That’s one place I am hoping to take the kids this summer.

What do you think Pensacola’s best kept secret is? I don’t think it even remotely counts as a secret, but a true local treasure is Pensacola NAS. I know lots of folks go to the museum, but when we go, we like to hit Fort Barrancas. Maybe the secret part is that they do really cool night time tours; hosted by guys in full Civil War dress who share the unique history of the fort. Being there at night with nothing but candles to light the corridors is fun with just a touch of spooky thrown in.

You are a DJ and a musician. What do you and your kids listen to in the car together? Well, in Amber’s car the kids love to listen to Kids Place Live on Sirius satellite. In my car, we usually listen to WABD (now that WABB is gone). JT loves Taio Cruz and Jillian is a big fan of Adele (“I set fire…to da wain!!!”). I like to stay as current as possible in music so I always know what the hottest new songs are to use when I’m working, and both our kids love to dance, so pop music rules in my car.

What is your favorite book to read with or to your middle school students and why? Well, since I teach reading to kids who are at a low reading level, sadly, we rarely get to actually read full length novels (no, I’m not kidding…most of the time is spent on short passages and teaching decoding and comprehension skills. Language Arts gets to read novels but Reading doesn’t…I’m teaching the definition of irony this week ;^). I loved reading The Outsiders with my high school kids when I was teaching 9th grade a couple years ago. This year I have been working on my first novel, a middle school age book, and reading the first few chapters of that to my 6th graders and seeing/hearing their reactions was pretty great too!

I love that you started a Poetry Open Mic Night at your school. What is the one poem that you hope your children know by heart when they are older? Great question! I would have to say, “If” by Rudyard Kipling. It’s not easy to find that much wisdom in one place. In that piece, Kipling gives life lessons that are easier to read than to live, and nothing but good could come from remembering them.

How can parents support good homework habits for their children? Do you have any tips we can implement at home? Oh boy…you done went and did it now! Never ask a teacher for advice on homework…because we’ll give it.

The first and foremost rule is that homework starts before anything else (games, snack, etc.) and is not finished until it has been checked. My wife does JT’s homework with him when they get home and checks it, and I when i get home from work, I check it over again. If what comes out is sloppy or poorly done, hold your ground and make them do it again! They will learn to take their time and do it right the first time! JT struggled with writing neatly, but he has improved greatly in the last couple months. His writing content has been great all along, but it was difficult to read. Now he takes his time writing and takes pride in writing neatly so it can be read. Also, don’t let homework time happen alone; sit with your kids while they do it. Show them that you think it is important and worth spending the time on. I have spent a lot of hours at the dinner table with JT this year working on 1st grade writing assignments (he has to do a paragraph every week), and my next tip is: Teach your child to pre-write! Before JT is even allowed to touch the paper that gets turned in, he has to have all his thoughts written out on a scratch page; not really a rough draft… more like outlining his thoughts. This makes him have to think through what he is going to write, rather than just grabbing the pencil and going at it. It also gives me a chance to help correct spelling.

Are you a Pensacola Person to Know or do you want to nominate someone? Let us know!


  1. Sarah Williams says

    I LOVED the homework advice in this section, there’s nothing better than serious homework tips from a teacher who is also a parent implementing them. Thanks for sharing!!