When most people envision a teacher who propels students toward academic success, they picture a professional who goes the distance to motivate, engage and inspire every step of the way. Jennifer Edwards, a third-grade teacher at Hillview Elementary in Birmingham, AL. literally and figuratively “goes the distance,” boarding the school bus with them at 6:30 a.m. in order to gain more one-on-one tutoring time with her students. This detour from the everyday is one of the many innovations that makes Edwards’s daily routine an extraordinary journey for all those who join her.
Edwards instituted her school’s Math Bee, as well as its literacy nights, where students get involved in community-based projects and parents in activities to increase their understanding and support of their children’s education. In the classroom, Edwards weaves her lofty expectations with creative methods to help all of her students exercise higher-level thinking skills. Almost all of her kids increase their reading scores to proficient or above, and her school’s third-grade scores are higher in reading than those of any other grade level. Eighty-seven percent of her students met or exceeded reading and math goals, and all scored on or above grade level on the Scott Foresman Reading exam. Thanks to her strategies, math scores increased by 20 percent schoolwide.
Her professional leadership prowess is evidenced in myriad ways. A member of the district steering committee and Hillview’s Continuous Improvement Leadership team, as well as other local and state committees, Edwards serves as a trusted mentor and leader. She also makes staff presentations at both the school and district level that have participants walking away with renewed vigor and enthusiasm. There is no doubt Edwards will continue to inspire both students and teachers alike by going the extra mile—morning, noon and night.