My given name is Jennifer Jo, which quickly turned to "J.J." by my parents and now by many in my family still today. Other names I respond to include Jenn (most commonly used by friends or colleagues), Jennifer (by my Dad), Auntie (love those little people who think I'm still cool), and my favorite of all - Mommy (by my three beautiful children).
I grew up in Lincoln, NE - a true Husker fan at heart! After graduating from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with an Arts&Sciences degree in English, I returned shortly after as a graduate student seeking a profession in secondary education. My first teaching job, then, was as a Reading and English teacher for 9-12 grade students at Lincoln Northeast High School. My oldest students were not only on average 5" taller than me, but only 6 years younger. An interesting experience, and one that helped shape me into the educator I am today.
After I married my Sweet, we moved to Denver, CO where he attended seminary and I began teaching Literacy and History at a middle school. The demographics in this school were 87% ELLs and roughly 80% non-white. My students referred to me as "Miss" and I'm not exaggerating when I say that I was truly the only "white girl" in many of my classes! I loved those students. They changed me with their vibrant spirits, eagerness to learn, and with all that they taught me.
After the Mister graduated from seminary (and with child #1 in tow), we moved to Grand Island, NE where we spent the next 6 years developing amazing friendships, enjoying close proximity to family in Lincoln, adding child #2 and #3, and working in both ministry and education. Aron worked as the Adult Discipleship Pastor at the Evangelical Free Church there in GI while also teaching theology and history courses at the Doane College campus and at a Bible College in Zambia, Africa each summer. He's incredibly gifted as a teacher.
I made the switch from teaching 6-12 graders to working with educators and school leaders by taking on a staff development position and focusing my attention primarily on school districts wanting to improve their teaching, learning, curriculum, and assessment around the area of literacy/reading. This was an incredibly challenging yet rewarding position, knowing that my work absolutely impacted what these educators would take into their own classrooms and use with dozens ... hundreds of students. Incredible possibilities ...
So as content and hopeful and hard-working as I was in public education, upon moving to North Dakota for Aron to answer a call to ministry in November of 2011, I made the decision to stay home full-time with my three children (then 6, 4, and 1). What an experience that has proven to be! And I mean that in the best way possible ... God's used this to refine me, to bless my time with my children, to give me a vision for who they might become.
One last word. Never in a million years did I think I'd home-educate my kids. With that being said, it's now very clear that I have to give it a try ... try to provide a learning environment that is uniquely differentiated according to each of my kids' learning needs, interests, styles, and process.
So here I am ... a public educator turned home-educator!