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HER | Jennie Sanders: Teacher/coach is back at old Genoa stomping grounds

by Katie Stone | contributing writer | July 31, 2021 at 5:00 p.m. | Updated July 30, 2021 at 10:02 p.m.
Jennie Sanders

Jennie Sanders began her teaching career in 2014 in Emerson, Arkansas. She completed her student teaching there and was quickly offered an opportunity that she could not pass up: head softball coach for Emerson High's first softball team.

The program was built from scratch, "from finding the girls, ordering uniforms, cutting out base pads in the field alongside the superintendent," she said. "I completely transformed the field into a softball field and had a full season of softball."

She finished the year there then began teaching and coaching in the Texarkana Arkansas School District in August of the same year. "I called TASD home for several years before accepting the head softball coaching job at Genoa Central School District," she said.

From the time Jennie was in kindergarten sitting in Mrs. White's class, she knew she wanted to be a teacher.

"Mrs. White was so kind and loving and I knew that I wanted to be just like her," she said.

In time, Jennie knew that teach would not be enough for her. She decided in middle school that she was also going to coach. She always knew what subject she would teach, too. When Jennie was a little girl, she enjoyed listening to stories of her grandfather's youth. Her grandfather, G. Howard Hall, would sit with her for hours as he spoke of how different the times were for him.

"He would turn on the news and talk about it and the 'olden days.' When I got older, I would look up the things he told me, and he was right," she said. "I could listen to him for hours while he talked about everything."

Jennie wants to make a difference in the lives of her students every chance she can. "I want to be someone my students look forward to seeing every day and help them grow into the young adults they will become," she said.

Jennie taught history at North Heights Junior High and Arkansas Middle School for seven years.

She takes a lot of pride in making history fun.

"I am a very energized person and I bring that energy into making history fun for my students," she said.

While teaching the students about how the world was before cellphones and computers, she got on top of a desk and proclaimed to her class, "Hear ye, Hear ye!" The students were not sure what to make of the display and there were quite a few laughs. She wanted, however, to make sure the students remembered the lesson.

"I told them that for the rest of the class, if they wanted to say something, they had to say "Hear ye, Hear ye!" Jennie hopes that her students will remember those moments and how they felt during her class.

"I hope that my students remember that I was an advocate for them and that I loved each one of them even on our worst days. I know they will remember my terrible jokes but the most important thing I hope they remember is how I made them feel when in my class," she said.

As an educator, Jennie believes teaching is constantly changing and she must be adaptable to the situation at hand. The current state of the COVID-19 pandemic is proof that schools and teachers must be open minded about the changing ways of educating today's youth.

Jennie started teaching at North Heights Junior High with a traditional classroom looking at each one of her students in person. When the pandemic set in she had to change the everyday routine.

"We had three different pathways that we used. One was traditional, another was virtual, and another was blended," she said. On top of dealing with the change due to COVID, she also moved her class to the new Arkansas Middle School

"Throughout the pandemic, we had to pivot in many different directions, and it taught me just how adaptable teachers can be," Jennie said. "However, I found that it is the lessons that the students teach us are the most memorable."

Jennie is looking forward to the new position at Genoa Independent School District. Growing up as Genoa Central Dragon, she is excited to teach lessons at the very place where she learned them herself. She looks forward to meeting her students and continuing her efforts in making a difference in as many lives as possible.

"The most rewarding part of my job is making an impact, igniting a spark, and getting to laugh all day. There is nothing more rewarding than knowing and seeing the evidence of the impact you have made on young lives," she said. "The ah-ha moments are the best part of teaching," Jennie said. "I sometimes forget I'm not paid in laughter because most days I feel like I laugh all day while teaching middle school!"

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