Lawrence Central’s Jennifer Query named MSDLT Teacher of the Year
Every year, MSD of Lawrence schools identify their building Teacher of the Year. Those teachers are honored at an end of the year celebration where the district Teacher of the Year is identified among those honored. The 2014 MSD of Lawrence Teacher of the Year is Lawrence Central (LC) Special Education teacher, Jennifer Query.
Nominated by LC Principal, Mr. Rocco Valadez, Query, affectionately referred to as “Q” by staff and students, talks to students like no other teacher in the building. She has the uncanny ability to speak to them on their level without a phony, patronizing or condescending tone. Her ability to establish a rapport with every student she comes in contact with enables Q to motivate students for whom traditional methodologies just don’t work. Q understands students’ strengths as well as their weaknesses. Too often, many students are all too willing to take the easy way or ‘allow’ themselves to be given the answers – and all too often, teachers have accepted that role. Not so with Q. She’s got a magical blend of empathy and tough love, offering caring assistance when it’s needed but strong resistance when the responsibility belongs to the student.
According to Valadez: The electricity that Q generates in a classroom is infectious. Any teacher who has co-taught or worked with Q would no doubt agree that they are better teachers when she is in the room, and better teachers from having worked with her.” She is organized, clever, fun, inventive and knowledgeable. Ms. Q may be a chameleon… or perhaps a quick-change artist. Consider the many and varied duties she has. No matter where she is, what content area or subject matter she is to cover, what students she is to help – she gives her all. And we all – administrators, teachers and students – benefit because she’s here. She is curious, competent, tenacious, enthusiastic, ethical and committed to continuously learning more. Q works hard to be knowledgeable about, and comfortable with, the world of Lawrence Central students. Because she is a special education teacher, she is an active member in multiple Professional Learning Communities (PLC). Her understanding of data and the role it plays in our student achievement is unmatched. It’s not atypical for Q to take care of lesson planning, data analysis, implementation of interventions, assessment and much, much more. She leads students from the simple understanding of the objectives and standards through the introduction of concepts and ideas to deep, critical thinking and analysis. The end or goal, ever present in hear mind, is mastery… mastery for all, and data is her measuring stick.
Q is a student advocate and has made it her mission to ensure student success. An example is Oliver. Oliver, in 18 short years, has faced more obstacles than most people see in a lifetime. Oliver’s mother moved across the country leaving him with a father he barely knew and didn’t get along with. Oliver decided he wasn’t going to graduate. He wasn’t going to stay with his father and he took a drastic and dark turn for the worse. The easy path would be to watch Oliver sail off into the sunset. Another drop out whose challenges outside the walls of the school were too much to overcome. A kid who we all knew, “never had a chance”. Not Q. Not with Oliver… not with any student. The relationship she has with Oliver, his teachers and administrators gave her the leverage she needed. She dedicated herself to solutions over obstacles, to answers over questions, and to rewards over risk. She sacrificed her own time to planning, collaboration, exhausting all options for one goal – Oliver. She made after midnight contact with administrators, coordinated conferences between Indianapolis and Texas, and refused to believe that this student would slip through the cracks. The result you ask? I’ll let Oliver tell you… “She saved my life. She literally saved my (and my rabbit’s) life, and I’m going to graduate!” – Oliver J. Class of 2014
Q doesn’t do the work she does for notoriety, her evaluation or to please the powers that be. She does this work every day and it is this kind of dedication, determination and innovation that make her the 2014 MSD of Lawrence Township Teacher of the Year.