Through all our articles on teachers there are some universal things teachers believe in and care about. Perhaps the most universal is that they care deeply about their students, and that doesn’t end when the school day ends each day.
Jennifer White is a wonderful example of how much teachers care.
“We don’t stop thinking about our students at 3:00 pm. We think about them at night and on weekends.”
Treye Hanner: Tell us a little about you and how you decided to become a teacher?
Jennifer White: I live in Morris with my husband, Jonathan. We’ve been married for 19 years. We have three children: Reese, Keeton, and John Riley. We are members of Gardendale First Baptist, and we work in the youth ministry there. We love to go camping and spend time at the lake. We are often found at the ballpark, a pageant, or taekwondo where our children are involved.
I grew up in Fultondale and was the oldest child, grandchild and usually the oldest child with my parents’ friend group. I was always the leader and often made the other kids play school. I don’t remember ever wanting to do anything else but be a teacher. I am so blessed to have always known that my calling was to teach.
I went on to complete my bachelor’s degree at The University of Montevallo and my master’s from UAB.
I’ve been teaching for 17 years now and all of those years, but my first, have been at Bryan Elementary. I am currently teaching 5th grade.
Treye Hanner: What is your favorite part of being a teacher?
Jennifer White: My favorite part of being a teacher is the relationships I make with my students. It’s so rewarding to work with them on a daily basis and help them persevere through the challenges they face.
I love when they come to me to chat or when they are nervous about something and need someone to talk to or give them advice. My absolute favorite thing is seeing my students as they have grown and hearing all about their lives and what they’ve accomplished.
Treye Hanner: Are there special moments where you say to yourself “this is why I teach?”
Jennifer White: It is so rewarding when I see former students, and they remind me of something fun we did in class or something I taught them. The best feeling ever is when a student says, “You believed in me, and you never gave up on me!” These moments are always reminders that God has me right where I am supposed to be.
Treye Hanner: What challenges have you experienced while having to teach through the pandemic?
Jennifer White: The last few years have been the most challenging in my teaching career. Teaching virtually and the attendance issues that came with quarantining were both so hard. I definitely learned that I need to teach students face to face to ensure they get the most out of each lesson and that their needs are met.
Now, we are seeing the effects of the pandemic on our students. A lot of our students are behind, and we are all working so hard to catch them up, while also teaching current grade level standards. There doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day to do it all. It’s so important to me that when a student leaves my class they are ready for the next grade level.
Treye Hanner: What’s the one thing you would like people to know about teachers?
Jennifer White: We love your children! We worry about what’s happening at home. We worry about what’s happening at school, and we pray for them. We don’t stop thinking about our students at 3:00 pm. We think about them at night and on weekends. We are constantly thinking of ways to help your child succeed in the classroom and in life. With every lesson we plan and each decision we make, we have your child’s best interest at heart.