My friends call me Jenny.
Who am I?
I'm first and foremost a mom, followed by district and school leader, teacher, instructional designer, and mental health champion. I'm a systems-thinker focused on improving school performance by designing professional learning experiences that have high outcomes for kids. In order of importance, these systems are: a positive, welcoming, and safe school environment; a culture of high expectations for students and teachers; and a deliberate set of social-emotional interventions that support the whole child. At the district level, my research centers around change implementation and building systems and structures that drive the ability for school leaders and educators to do their jobs. Implementation and change theory are key levers for schools to "move the needle" with regard to positive outcomes for students.
What do I believe?
I've been fortunate to have had diverse learning experiences that have led me to and from the education world. My belief is that sometimes we over-complicate an already complicated (and very political) educational system that focuses so intensely on making kids smarter instead of preparing them with next-generation skills like critical thinking, concise (and kind) communication, problem-solving skills, and a moral compass; skills that will translate into complex jobs that have yet to be created. I, instead, strive daily to get others to think big picture. My belief is that the most important thing we can do for students is make a connection, create relevance, align instruction to organizational outcomes, and provide research-based learning experiences that prepare students for life after high school. Finally, kids need positive adult mentors now more than ever to guide students in our complex, emotionally-strained, and challenging world.
What drives me to get out of bed in the morning?
The last decade of my career has been hyper-focused on social emotional learning and the research around early interventions in schools. I have been personally touched by the mental health crisis in our country and this has led me to study it extensively and find solutions that address acute and generalized mental health needs in schools. I routinely support schools and teachers with professional development involving de-escalation techniques, social-emotional curriculum, Restorative Justice practices, and systems that move high-needs students toward adaptive coping strategies and mainstream classroom settings. I also personally take on a caseload of students who are struggling emotionally and mentor them. My belief is that the earlier we can intervene and help students develop healthy coping strategies, the more likely we are to build a community of resilient and adaptable adults who positively contribute to their families and the community.