Meet Jennifer Stephenson, M.A.
TEACH Program Manager
It was one particular student who altered Jennifer’s teaching trajectory and forever changed her outlook on her personal purpose. Seeing first-hand the impact of a positive student-teacher relationship inspired Jennifer to want to help other educators strengthen their relationships with the students with whom they often struggle most. After spending more than a decade as a Kindergarten teacher and Assistant Principal with KIPP Texas Public Schools, Jennifer joined TEACH as a Program Manager, a role that allows her to empower teachers just like her in creating strong, productive student relationships that allow them to reach their full potential.
“Let your life speak,” a quote shared by one of the great teachers in her life, still resonates with Jennifer, who hopes to make a meaningful impact on the lives of the educators and teachers she now touches through her work. A former theater student, when she’s not working, Jennifer is always looking for a creative outlet and can be found exploring all that Houston has to offer alongside her husband and son.
TEACH: What do you love most about working in education?
JS: Hands down, my favorite part of working in education is building relationships with students. Seeing students grow and achieve is rewarding, but it’s also a long-term process that begins with day-to-day interactions. Having spent most of my career in early childhood education, that relationship-building aspect was truly magnified. I had the opportunity to nurture my students from day one. In fact, the hardest part of leaving KIPP was leaving my students; they became family.
TEACH: Who do you consider one of the great teachers in your life and why?
JS: Ms. Lederman, my social studies teacher during my junior year of high school. She made class so engaging and relevant, even when she was teaching us about events that happened 70 years ago. My husband, who was in that same class with me, and I still remember her fondly and think about the impact she had on our lives. She was that classic teacher character that seems pulled out of a TV show, but she was real! In fact, when she retired, one of my drama club classmates and I were setting up for an event and wandered into her classroom, where she had left a handwritten note on the chalkboard: “Let your life speak.” It was so touching. It’s what she wanted for us, and I still think about that. She touched so many students’ lives during her career. I hope that’s something I’ll be able to say when I retire one day.
TEACH: At the end of the day, what is one thing you find most fulfilling about your job?
JS: It has already been so rewarding to walk away knowing a teacher will be able to immediately use the TEACH skills I’ve shared with them. Hearing teachers in their own words describe how they’ll implement the feedback I’ve provided them is extremely powerful.
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