Jennifer is a scientist-turned-educator who asks “what if” questions and explores the answers with the children she teaches. She introduces fun, hands-on activities so that children can delve into their interests through exploration and wonder while meeting learning objectives and developing new skills. She is a recipient of the Prime Minister’s Awards for Excellence in Early Childhood Education. The Prime Minister’s Awards are given to educators that provide exemplary teaching practices in their classrooms. Their guidance of children and laying the groundwork in early childhood education are a few of the reasons that educators are selected for these awards. This is the third year that BrightPath has been honoured with this award, previously receiving it in 2014 and again in 2017.
Jennifer has been working as an educator for over 3 years. She has been with BrightPath at our Sage Hill daycare centre in Calgary since October 2017. Jennifer became interested in working with children after spending time volunteering at the childcare centre her children were attending. She was curious about how to best teach her own children to allow them the best start in their young lives. She took the initiative and took a course in early childhood development and obtained her Childhood Development Assistant Certificate. Jennifer switched her career focus from the hustle and bustle of downtown Calgary and drilling rigs in rural Alberta and Saskatchewan to being in an energetic classroom teaching children and having lots of fun. Jennifer believes that even though there are a lot of things we can teach and guide our children through, they are also the ones teaching us.
Jennifer chose to work at BrightPath because of the programs that it offers to young children. She has taught both the Frog Street Threes and Frog Street Pre-K programs. These childcare programs focus on the development of early social awareness, literacy and mathematics. The management at her daycare centre has been fully supportive of Jennifer’s emergent curriculum that is based on the children’s interest. BrightPath also offers recreational programs like ballet, karate, sports jams, early readers and early math classes. She enrolled her own child in these programs and witnessed the additional benefits. The Sage Hill daycare is full of amazing staff that are passionate about what they do and support each other in their work environment.
Jennifer’s curriculum is inquiry-based from her observations of the children’s interests. She ensures that each experience is purposeful, meaningful and teaches specific skills to set up children for success. Each daily lesson builds on the previous day’s activity for the week. Jennifer’s talents have been recognized by BrightPath’s daycare education coaches and she was recruited to help develop the upcoming Summer Discovery Zone Curriculum.
If you were a student in Jennifer’s classroom, your day would be full of fun. For example, one day the children in her classroom were pretending to be hairstylists. Jennifer solicited hairdressing supplies to be used for pretend play from a child’s parent who was a hair stylist. The children learnt about the purpose of hair and how it grows on their bodies. They had hands-on activities to learn how to wash hair by using dolls and water. Their week ended with a field trip to the local barbershop. The children were able to interact with the Barber, explore the shop and even get their hair styled.
Another example is when the children were discussing tornadoes in their classroom. Jennifer turned this into an opportunity for the children to learn about natural disasters. Each day, the children learnt about a different type of natural disaster complete with science experiments/models and safety procedures. This included a tornado in a bottle, building structures and testing them in a mini earthquake, simulating volcanic eruptions, turning rock into caves and making modifications to a shoreline in a mini-tsunami model. The children were encouraged to make modifications to their experiments to minimize potential environmental damage where applicable.
In her free time, Jennifer is a local Beaver Scout Leader with Scouts Canada. She enriches local youth with various experiences, teaching them through outdoor activities, camp and life skills. Jennifer has travelled to various parts of the world including Haiti, Iceland, Australia and many countries within Europe. Jennifer and her husband cannot wait to teach their own children about the world around them through travel.