Shawnee Dispatch

Teacher Feature: Jenny Sands

Jenny Sands, eighth grade science teacher at Trailridge Middle School. Enlarge photo

April 15, 2016

For this week's Teacher Feature, we talk to Jenny L. Sands, an eighth grade science teacher at Trailridge Middle School.

Age: 60

Educational degrees: Bachelors in Education - University of Kansas; Masters of Arts in Teaching - Webster; Doctorate in Curriculum and Teaching in Science Education (ABD) - University of Kansas

Teaching for: over 35 years

Schools taught at: Trailridge Middle School (5 years), Antioch Middle School (25 years), East Antioch Elementary School (5 years), Hickory Grove Elementary School (1 year), and Grand County Schools in Colorado (2 years)

Why did you want to become a teacher?

I always wanted to be a teacher. My mother was a school secretary so I was around education. Education was also stressed in my home growing up. I even played teacher when I was a young girl!

What are your proudest accomplishments as a teacher?

I am most proud when I see my students succeed. I have great kids who work hard, and when I see the pride they take in their work and learning, I know I have made a small difference.

What advice would you give a student considering teaching as a career?

I would say, "Go for it!" I think it is a wonderful career! You get to be creative planning interesting and engaging lessons, which you then get to present to enthusiastic young people who often take your visions

to a whole new level and teach you even more in return. Every day is different, fun, and rewarding. It is a lot of work, but well worth it!

Who was your biggest inspiration?

My parents, Sidney and JoAnne Sachs, were my biggest inspirations. First, they always believed in me and my brothers and lead an honest and virtuous life. My father put himself through college on the GI Bill earning a degree in organic chemistry and my mother went to the University of Chicago after only two years of high school. She didn't complete her college education after she married Dad, but was a very smart and well read woman.

What is a fun or unique project or lesson you have had in class recently?

We just completed a fun STEM project-based unit on bridges. The students were given a basic introduction to bridges and forces. They then did further research, in teams, on different types of bridges, materials, loads, and famous bridges. Each team was given a set amount of materials which included: 400 toothpicks, 10 straws, 5 Popsicle sticks, 2 meters of string, 1 meter of tape, and a bottle of glue. The bridge had to be built within a given set of parameters and was tested by hanging a pail with washers. We had a great bridge competition with lots of excitement! Some bridges performed better than others, but it was great to hear and see all the groups trying and evaluating different designs. Engineering in action!

What is one way you use technology in the classroom?

Technology has enhanced classroom instruction in many ways. I teach five sections of advanced science and all those students do an experimental research project first semester. The MacBooks allowed me to communicate with them throughout this process assisting with research, testing, and editing. The students can email me anytime, even weekends when they are working and need my input. Technology also offers instant feedback on assessments. This can be on a short exit ticket response, quiz, or longer exam. There are a myriad of ways that technology has changed the way students can express their learning. Students have made iMovies, Google slide presentations, Prezis, and games. Technology has given me the ability to better reach out to each of my kids and parents to meet their unique individual needs.

What makes your school great?

Trailridge is a fantastic school because the students are great! I love my kids! The parents are also very supportive and have high expectations for their children. Trailridge also has an amazing staff and support personnel who all want every child to succeed. We all work together, in partnership, to offer the best opportunities for every child.

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