Teacher Spotlight – November 2017

Meet Ms. Celena Jenkins / 7th grade / ELA / KIPP DC WILL Academy

“Our team puts in the effort to prioritize relationships and we make sure to work together.”

As a psychology major at Morgan State University, Celena was exposed to disparities in education through an educational psychology course. It was through this class that she learned about Teach For America and its mission, which inspired her to join the organization. Celena started teaching in Jacksonville, Florida and soon fell in love with education.

Through personal research, Celena learned about KIPP and it’s model. Learning about the student success KIPP was having around the country inspired her to join KIPP DC’s team. As the newest member of the 7th grade team at WILL Academy this year, Celena was quickly brought into a community of teachers. She shares, “Everyone was welcoming with me being new. Our team puts in the effort to prioritize relationships and we make sure to work together.”

In addition to strong relationships with her team, Celena credits school leadership with supporting her team via professional development and student success. Stephanie Day, the vice principal over ELA at WILL, observes teachers two to three times a week and follows up with a feedback check-in. Celena says, “After each observation we debrief. Every time we meet, she will give me an action step. She’ll help me create things and master structures.”

Weekly professional development at WILL Academy has also contributed to Celena’s growth through intentional and relevant topics. Similar to Stephanie’s weekly feedback, Celena says professional development is “purposeful, targeted, and gives you clear instructions on how to implement the next day. Administrators assess needs in the school and then provide training on it. I never feel like my time is being wasted.” Topics this year have focused on relationships with colleagues and students. The WILL team dove deep into relationships, specifically with black boys, to ensure that we were being intentional about fostering healthy relationships with all students.

Celena’s classroom is an inviting space with a large library that helps students select the perfect book by genre, famous author, series, or more. When reflecting on joy in her classroom, Celena shares a story about turning a lesson into a game by adding balled up the paper and a trashcan. “Every time they answered correctly, they would receive a point and then get to throw the paper in the trash for an extra point. They were so excited that they were looking back into the book, arguing with each other. It felt great knowing that I had created that space.”

Foster a joyful, rigorous classroom at KIPP DC. Apply to be a middle school lead teacher for the 2018-19 school year.

Posted on November 16, 2017 in Awards & Recognition