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Jen has dedicated nearly 30 years of her life to transforming education for young children - 21 of which she has spent as a kindergarten teacher at Holly Academy. Her vibrant personality, unmatched memory and kind heart have made her a leader not only in her classroom, but in the school. When she's not uncovering new, innovative teaching strategies for the kids, you can find Jen organizing local and global giving projects - whether it's raising money for the humane society in town or adopting a polar bear in the arctic - all with one purpose: show our youngest learners that you can ALWAYS give back, and be a leader. Her ability to forge lasting relationships with coworkers, parents and students is unmatched - it's one of many reasons that Jen is a THREE TIME Michigan Charter School Teacher of the Year finalist. Her fellow educators note that Jen is one of those teachers who not just embodies their school values, but truly is part of the foundation of the school. 2020 AOY finalist Jeremy Brown, whose three kids all had Jen in kindergarten, notes that he built his relational approach with students in part by observing Jen.
We’re so fortunate to have some amazing educators who have been here from the beginning - 21 years of dedication and experience has been so meaningful in maintaining our high standards and culture. In the same breath, we have some great new educators who have brought in great ideas and challenged the status quo - especially during this unprecedented time, we need both on our team. I think now more than ever, we have to drop the lines and negativity between charter schools and traditional public schools. We have to share our stories. We have to address the misinformation with positivity. We have to talk about the great opportunities we’re providing for kids.
It has been so important to me to instill confidence in my kids that I’m still with them, I’m still thinking about them, and we’re going to get through this together. This is a very scary time for all children, but especially kindergarteners, as they don’t understand the “why” behind their time home, away from school. My job is to not just support their learning through zoom meetings, virtual activities, etc., but also to support their parents and let them know that we’re all in the together, and that we’re each doing our best.
Check out this collection of photos, submitted by Jen and get a peek into her life as a teacher!
Hear from Julie Kildee, Director at Holly Academy & Jeremy Brown, Superintendent at Woodland Park Academy & 2020 AOY finalist, why Jen is deserving of the 2020 TOY Award!