By Barbara P. Jacoby
Creekland MS teacher Jennifer Camp has fulfilled her childhood dream of becoming a teacher, and she’s now dedicated to helping her students find the same joy in school.
“I knew I wanted to be a teacher from a young age. It goes all the way back to playing school with my sister when we were little,” said Camp, who is in her 20th year of teaching and was named Creekland’s 2022 Teacher of the Year. “I loved working with kids, and I wanted to make a difference and be a positive influence for others.”
As a sixth-grade English literature and composition teacher, Camp looks for creative ways to blend writing skills with real world applications. One example is her argumentative essay unit. Students research an issue then write an argumentative essay incorporating key composition elements they learned from Camp’s lessons. The unit doesn’t stop there though. It next progresses to a courtroom reenactment.
The students choose a side of the issue that they researched and gather evidence to support their stand. They volunteer for courtroom roles such as judge, bailiff, clerk, district attorney, and jury member.
“The students dressed up for their specific roles, and we had so much fun presenting our writing in a ‘courtroom’ setting,” Camp said. “The students loved doing this!”
Crafting innovative lessons like this is one way Camp strives for student engagement. Equally important is building positive relationships with students, which she believes is crucial to learning success.
“I feel if I am enthusiastic and passionate about what we are doing in the classroom, the students will feel that and respond in the same way,” she said. “Establishing a rapport is so important to me, and I feel the relationships I have with my students encourage that positive classroom environment needed in order for students to be excited to learn.”
Camp, who has served as a mentor teacher, team leader, and in other teacher leader roles at Creekland, additionally volunteers at school events and in the community to further build connections with students.
“Kids love seeing their teachers at their after-school activities and at community events. I remember one time I was working a basketball game doing concessions and was cheering for my students playing the game. There was also a parent volunteer working with me, and she asked me which player was mine. I responded with a smile and said they were all mine.”
What can parents do to help their child be as successful as possible at school?
“I think communication is key. We are all on the same side and want what is best for our children,” Camp said. “It’s also necessary to be involved. It could be something like helping your child study or reading with them at night. Offering support and encouragement can go a long way in helping your child succeed.”