Jennifer Jerns said she enjoys teaching fourth grade, where she can interact with students on a higher level.
“I love the age. They’re still interested in learning, and I can be more humorous with them,” she said.
Jerns was recently honored as Lord Baltimore Elementary School’s Teacher of the Year for 2011-2012.
After graduating from Salisbury University with a bachelor’s degree in psychology, Jerns took a nontraditional route, saying she began teaching “on accident.” Jerns actually answered a newspaper advertisement for a Maryland juvenile detention center that was seeking teachers.
The Indian River High School graduate later returned home to earn a master’s degree in special education from Wilmington University. She subsequently began working locally as a preschool classroom paraprofessional.
Jerns joined the Lord Baltimore staff to teach first grade, then taught fifth grade; and this is her third year teaching fourth grade.
Within the classroom, Jerns said, it can be challenging to “motivate the unmotivated … and get them excited about learning.”
Ultimately, Jerns said, “I really do like the kids. They’re fun.”
“What a wonderful classroom and environment,” said Principal Janet Hickman said of Jerns at Indian River School District’s Teacher of the Year ceremony in April.
Hers is an inclusion classroom, meaning a para-educator assists Jerns in teaching a standard class that also includes students with disabilities or diverse learning styles.
“Becoming a parent made me a better teacher,” Jerns said. “I’m such a big influence — whether I want to be or not — and I never realized it until I had kids.”
She said she loves spending time with her three young children.
Jerns is a Learning-Focused Strategies trainer, teaching new instruction techniques to other staff members. She is also the fourth-grade representative for the school’s liaison committee.
Jerns said she was very honored to be recognized from such a “phenomenal bunch of people” at Lord Baltimore Elementary, saying, “I love what I do, and I guess that showed.”