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MY May 2012 : Page 49

of Michigan graduate with degrees in journalism and education. Jennifer did not have a lifelong interest in teaching, however she did possess an innate and long-standing desire to make a difference, leading to her decision to leave journalism and obtain her teaching degree. Jennifer believed that being a teacher would allow her to be part of the solution of life’s challenges by inspiring students and making a difference. She has maintained that enthusiasm and ideology, and is currently in her 13th year of teaching at a local high school. Jennifer’s favorite sources of inspiration are transcendental authors including Emerson and Whitman, that believe we are all connected. She recognizes that not all students enter her class loving literature; however, she believes that there is magic in the authors she assigns, and continues to wake up every day, grateful for the opportunity to convey and teach that magic. Some of her favorite moments as a teacher are those when she witnesses as a student “gets it”. Her passion and enthusiasm are equal to her ability to challenge her students to become critical thinkers. Her students (both current and former) consider her challenging, inspiring and always feel that their opinion is valued. Her method of teaching her classes include dressing to further convey and captivate concepts and authors, and allowing creative expression for assignments by students which tends to cultivate open mindedness and personal connection to the literature. To inspire learning for the sake of learning, Jennifer once had two male students seek her out for Independent credits. The two students were not interested in futures as teachers, or particularly interested in literature. They were both captains of their sports at the high school (hockey and football). In addition to their independent study requirements, she had each student write persuasive research papers why their respective sports were better than the other. Both students reported that her integrity, desire for them to succeed, and her ability to find meaningful for ways to connect students to material encourages performance and enhanced their learning. On the personal level, she has developed long standing relationships with former students and feels strongly that no student should ever feel like they are alone. One of Jen’s most meaningful expressions of gratitude was an end of the year letter from a student’s mother expressing her Above is an example of how this teacher gets her students gratitude, and interested in literature. While reading “The Great Gatsby,” students stating that Jennifer are asked to dress like characters from the era of the book. had become her Teacher -Jennifer with student Courtney Kamen. son’s John Keating (reference Dead Poets Society); this letter is framed on her wall. In addition, Jennifer allowed a student and budding artist to paint a mural in her classroom inspired by reading To Kill a Mockingbird in her class, as a token of thanks. Jennifer has been the well-deserved recipient of the following awards: • Inspiring student success TOP REASONS CITED FOR BECOMING A TEACHER: • Autonomy • Job security • Summers Off • Continued learning • You get to be yourself • Teacher of the Month at her high school • Media and Education Teacher of the Year (3rd place) student and parent submitted. • Barnes & Noble teacher certificate appreciation May 2011 (2nd place) It is surprising how often the role of teachers are taken for granted when for approximately ten months of the year they are often with our children for more hours a day than parents. To Jennifer and the countless other inspirational teachers… Happy National Teacher Appreciation Week. Susie Kamen, LMSW is a social worker in private practice in Farmington Hills. She provides outpatient psychotherapy for adolescents and adults focusing on issues of self-esteem, substance abuse, crisis intervention, divorce recovery, motivational life strategies, parenting and mind/body/spirit development. Contact Susie at 248-788-7072. There are countless organizations that sponsor awards and nominations to honor teacher excellence. Check with your local school or on the internet. INSPIRATIONAL MOVIES ABOUT TEACHERS: • To Sir with Love • Stand and Deliver • Mr. Holland’s Opus • Dead Poets Society • Freedom Writers MY Magazine | 49

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