Howdy, from Austin, Texas! My name is Jennifer Atkinson, and I teach 1st grade at Metz Elementary. Located only 20 blocks from our state capital, Metz is celebrating its 91st birthday this year. We have the distinction of being one of the oldest schools in Texas and have had the honor of educating students that come from generations of the same families. At Metz, I am proud to work with some of the most loving, innovative and dedicated teachers I have ever known. We work together as a team, inspiring each other to reach high standards of accomplishments for our selves and our students.
I am humbled to be in a position to be able to share what I have learned throughout my career in education. I am a recipient of Time Warner Cable's 2006-2007 National Teacher of the Year award and a 2007 national teacher finalist for The History Channel's Save Our History Grant and Honors program. For the 2007-2008 school year, I was one of five national grand prize winners of the $10,000 Got2BSafe classroom makeover. More recently, I was notified to receive the James F. Veninga Outstanding Teacher of the Humanities Award from Humanities Texas in the fall of 2008. To be a quality teacher, I believe that you always have to be open to learning new things. I like to think of this opportunity as a collaborative effort where everyone can share his or her thoughts, ideas and experiences. What a wonderful way to support each other as we strive for teaching excellence!
I have lived in Austin for 11 years and am entering my 10th year of teaching 1st grade. I absolutely love teaching. Yes, it is exhausting and time consuming and there are many problems in education that need to be remedied. But I want to be a part of that solution because I believe that quality education is the key to prosperous and peaceful growth of our planet. I am drawn to inspire others to discover the best in themselves and to encourage inquiry into the varied experiences that are offered throughout ones life.
I was born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana and have many family members still living there after Hurricane Katrina. I graduated with a BA in Education from the University of New Orleans the same year my 18-year-old son, Ian, entered Kindergarten. The rich culture and diverse inhabitants of New Orleans helped shape who I am as a person and as an educator. These experiences have influenced my lively approach to teaching and my passion for teaching the humanities. My classroom is filled with laughter, music, singing and dance. It is our home away from home, "our school family" as we like to call it.
One recent morning, I was trying to explain the concept of how satellites are built and sent into outer space in order for scientists to learn about planets and other phenomena light years away. I described the lengthy process of designing and building satellites. I explained that the scientists who create these satellites may not live to see the results of all of their hard work because of the time it takes these satellites to travel to their destination. I wanted to tie in the idea of how contributions can grow over time and that even small things we do can have far reaching consequences. It must have been very exciting for these scientists to know they were creating something that would help their younger colleagues learn and discover amazing things so far off into the future. And in that moment I had an epiphany that I was like these scientists and my students were the satellites. It was exciting to know that I was always going to be a part of their lives and that I was helping them to grow into the people they would become. That meaningful moment illustrates why I teach and why the care that I put into each moment with my students makes all the difference in the world.