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HS Teacher Patsy Lester Competes on “Jeopardy!”

East Islip HS teacher Patsy Lester competes on “Jeopardy!” thumbnail209549
East Islip HS teacher Patsy Lester competes on “Jeopardy!” thumbnail209550

High school social studies teacher and mock trial team coach Patsy Lester appeared as a contestant on the “Jeopardy!” game show on Jan. 7, finishing in second place and winning $2,000. Lester lost to the super-champion Amy Schneider, who at that time had won 28 times and earned over $1 million dollars. 

“I first tried out by taking the online contestant test back in March 2020 when we were on lockdown,” Lester said. “I took the test for fun. I’ve always been a ‘Jeopardy!’ fan but never expected to actually get on the show.”

After she took the test, Lester was told she had a qualifying score. Over the next year, she was contacted multiple times to take more tests, be interviewed and play a practice game, all via Zoom. The show finally called Lester in August 2021 and asked her to fly out to Los Angeles to appear on the show.

“I thought it was a prank call at first,” Lester said.

“Jeopardy!” films multiple shows per day, well in advance of the air dates, and on Lester’s filming day, hers was the last show. 

“I had watched the champion Amy plow through eight other contestants in four shows before mine filmed, so I was definitely feeling nervous,” she said. “The show itself goes so fast. I felt like I blinked my eyes and it was over. The hardest thing about ‘Jeopardy!’ is the buzzer timing. When the host reads the clue, a person on set enables the signaling devices and big lights flash to let the contestants know they can ring in. If you hit the buzzer too soon, you get locked out and can’t ring in.

Lester’s “Jeopardy!” experience definitely impacted her work as an educator.

“It taught me something about teaching and coaching,” Lester said. “I now have firsthand experience of what it’s like to be under pressure and have my mind go blank on a fact I know. I’ve always been sympathetic to test anxiety, but now I really know what it’s like.”

Date Added: 1/18/2022

Tuesday, May 17, 2022