Local Schools

Jenna Huffstutler Helps Her Students Find Those “Light bulb” Moments

Every student has a journey through different subjects in school. Some subjects they are really interested in and others not so much. One of the challenges for teachers is finding those moments that spark an interest or passion for a subject. Jenna calls them “lightbulb” moments.

“We plan lessons specifically to meet their needs and there is no better feeling than seeing the “light bulb” moment happening.”

Jenna is the Family & Consumer Sciences teacher at North Jefferson Middle School. She is also the Head Coach for volleyball, the girls bowling coach, Pageant Coordinator and the Diamond Dolls Sponsor.

Treye Hanner: Tell us a little about you and how you decided to become a teacher?

Jenna Huffstutler: I am 26 years old and currently live in Warrior. I was born and raised in this community, attending Warrior Elementary, North Jefferson Middle and graduating from Mortimer Jordan in 2013. I completed my Bachelor’s degree in Family and Consumer Sciences Education from the University of Montevallo in 2017 and went on to complete my Masters of Education in Special Education from the University of West Alabama in 2019.

I am finishing my 5th year of teaching, four of which have been at North Jefferson where I teach 7th & 8th grade Family & Consumer Sciences (previously known at Home Economics). I also coach volleyball and bowling, sponsor the diamond dolls and direct our school pageant.

Becoming a teacher was always in the back of my mind growing up because my mom, Anne Huffstutler, has worked in schools for over 30 years now. School events were a big part of our lives, well past the 3 o’clock bell. I knew if I became a teacher, I never wanted to teach the class kids would dread going to. I wanted to teach something that could in some way appeal to everyone, which is how I landed on teaching FACS. I get to teach the basic life skills students will need as they get older and become adults.

Treye Hanner: What is your favorite part of being a teacher?

Jenna Huffstutler: My favorite part of being a teacher is the relationships and connections I have been able to build with both students and coworkers. I could not imagine working and teaching without some of my best friends and supporters being right down the hall.

With my students, I really try to get to know them and find out what they like doing outside of school. Once I have found a way to connect with them, I’ve seen so much more of what they’re capable of. I love when my students come to tell me about their day, or something new they are thinking about trying, or just something they are excited about.

Treye Hanner: Are there special moments where you say to yourself “this is why I teach?”

Jenna Huffstutler: I know a lot of students who struggle in their academic classes, and they just need to find something they’re good at. I love when I get to a new topic and see a student who has been discouraged in another class find something they are interested in learning more about through my class. Or a student who generally has no interest in what we are doing really locks into a new project we are starting. Every student isn’t going to thrive inside the classroom, but I hope to make sure they can thrive once they leave. That’s why I teach.

Treye Hanner: What challenges have you experienced while having to teach through the pandemic?

Jenna Huffstutler: During the pandemic, I was definitely pushed to adapt my class to be more technology based. It took a lot of work in the beginning for my class specifically, which is normally so hands-on, and project based, to become mostly done through the internet.

A lot of students had no motivation to do the work given in their core subject classes, much less electives. It was a hard time for everyone. That same mindset is still occurring today with many students. Attendance issues are still a huge obstacle we are tackling. If students are constantly missing class, then it’s almost impossible for us to really teach them everything they need to know to succeed in our classrooms. That’s a difficult task right now, figuring out how to catch everyone up after they have missed so much.

Treye Hanner: What’s the one thing you would like people to know about teachers?

Jenna Huffstutler: Teachers are truly trying to do the best job possible for our students. We don’t want to see any student fail. We thrive by seeing our students thrive. We plan lessons specifically to meet their needs and there is no better feeling than seeing the “light bulb” moment happening. We worry for them, we pray for them, we cheer for them, and we think about them all the time even when they are no longer on our rosters.

Southfork Publishing, LLC, the publisher of The Gardendale News, is launching an online magazine for teachers, called Jefferson County Teacher. Teachers and staff can sign up for our free email newsletter on our website for  Jefferson County Teacher.