My name is Jennifer Hedges and I teach Kindergarten at Berwick Academy. My husband Todd and I are originally from Rochester, New York. After I graduated with my Masters degree in Elementary Education, we moved to Saratoga Springs, NY for a brief period of time before settling in Marblehead, MA. My first teaching position was in Chelsea, MA in a bilingual kindergarten classroom as a part of the Boston University/Chelsea Public Schools Early Childhood Partnership Program. After teaching kindergarten and second grade in Chelsea, I was hired to teach first grade in Marblehead, MA. I took a break from teaching to raise my two children, Lilly and Spencer. When our family relocated to New Hampshire, I began substitute teaching at various schools in the Seacoast area. Berwick stood out as not only a place I wanted my children to go, but the place I wanted to teach. Our family feels so fortunate to live on the Seacoast and we take advantage of all it has to offer. In the winter you will find my family on the slopes or snowshoeing. In the summer, we are at the beach or enjoying time in the Adirondacks. In between, we try to maintain balance and enjoy school, work, and time with family and friends!
What is your favorite lesson to teach?
It would be hard to pinpoint one specific lesson that is my favorite. I particularly love the beginning of the day when we all gather for Morning Meeting. It is often the time where incidental learning takes place, and allows us the time to set the tone and build community. The social and emotional growth of our children is as important as skills such as reading and math, and this morning time is key to fostering a positive classroom environment.
Why are you excited to teach Kindergarten?
Kindergarteners love school. Their energy and joy is helping to keep me young! It is exciting to work with our youngest learners during these formative years where good teaching can make a profound impact on their development as learners.
How do you define great teaching?
I honestly believe that there are many, many good elementary teachers working with our children. I think what separates a good teacher from a great teacher is that a great teacher is constantly self-reflective and works hard to determine what each individual child needs in order for learning to take place. Children come to us knowing a great deal. It is the job of a skilled teacher to allow the children to build upon that foundation and encourage additional understandings. Great teachers must be good listeners and incredibly patient. Children learn differently, and a great teacher is respectful of that and allows the children to help drive the curriculum pace and outcomes. I think great teachers are also full of energy and have an incredible work ethic by nature.
What is your classroom motto or theme?
Perfect is boring!
What is your favorite thing about the Lower School?I love the ebb and flow of watching the children grow over time. The air in September practically hums, and the excitement to start a new year is palpable. The teachers are just as nervous as the children on the first day, but this is simply due to the anticipation of what is to come. I love being a part of the traditions and celebrations that are unique to Berwick. Watching the children participate in assemblies, share a thought in community meeting, chat with a teacher during lunch~ these are all small parts of our day that, when put together, create a loving and nurturing environment for all of us.