Miss Edmunds is the only person, before Leslie, who ever encouraged Jess to explore his true nature and to escape the mindless conformity of Lark Creek Elementary, by nourishing his artistic talent and assuring him that he has a "neat kid." Like Leslie, Miss Edmunds is sorely out of place in Lark Creek. She bears a passing resemblance to Leslie's parents, in her liberal worldview and "hippie" characteristics. For this reason, she is almost universally distrusted at the school. But even so, there is an undeniable appeal about this slim, attractive young music teacher that even the most hardened students cannot deny. Her status as a music teacher is appropriate, purveyor of the aesthetic arts rather than staid grammar and arithmetic. The rest of the school seems dedicated exclusively to the health of the mind and Miss Edmunds provides some much-needed food for the soul.
Jess is deeply infatuated with Miss Edmunds. His crush on her is proof that he longs for something more than the narrow world of Lark Creek, that he senses that there is a beauty and vibrancy to the world that he is never been privy to in his world of grinding poverty and severely limited outlook. There is a freshness about her that is like a breath of fragrant air in the stale atmosphere of this rural community. Most of the students distrust this, but Jess is greatly impressed by it. Miss Edmunds is a symbol of the beauty and freedom that are possible in the world, and Jess is entranced by the idea and the emotions she stirs in him.