English teacher advances to college level
“Life is a book unwritten: only you hold the pen.”
This statement is painted on a colorful mural that covers one whole wall in Jennifer Montgomery’s room at Centre High School.
She penned the first chapter of her life as a high school English teacher for 23 years. Now, she is beginning to write a new chapter as a college English professor at Butler Community College in El Dorado.
“This will be a big change, but it has been my lifelong hope to sometime teach at a post-secondary level,” she said.
Montgomery taught at Marion-Florence schools for four years. She has resigned from Centre after 19 years. She acquired a master’s degree in English from Kansas State University in 2010.
Montgomery said she has learned a lot. As a teacher at a small school, she has played multiple roles and filled a variety of positions.
“I can’t be more pleased with what happened with me here,” she said. “It was what I wanted.”
She said she has learned how to relate to students.
“If you see kids as adversaries, you don’t get anywhere,” she said. “I’ve learned to appreciate where people are. You have to let kids express themselves, but they need certain basic skills and proper communication.”
Her most rewarding experience has been as coordinator of the Student Improvement Team. The team monitors specific individuals and helps them stay on track.
“I’ve grown tremendously in learning to know what kids need to be successful. They need structure, expectations, and organization. If they are required to fulfill expectations, after a while they just do it.”
She said she enjoyed keeping in touch with students and their families.
“It is very rewarding when students tell me they are prepared for college,” she said. “They learned something practical and useful.”
Montgomery said she would miss being part of a close community where everybody knows each other.
“I like everyone,” she said.
At the same time, she is looking forward to having fewer lesson plans to prepare. At Centre, she had a different class each hour, along with several extra-curricular assignments. At Butler, she will teach five classes, two of which will be repeats.
“I feel kind of weird,” she said Friday. “I’m feeling happy and sad at the same time. God led me here, and he kept me here. I feel so grateful to be leaving here on a good note. It’s been a privilege to teach here. I have good colleagues who are supportive, generous, and forgiving. The next chapter will be good.”
Last modified May 23, 2018