Teacher of the Year, Doing what she’s supposed to be doing at Simmons
Third-grade teacher Jennifer Page has been at Simmons Elementary School for 11 years and she can’t imagine being anywhere else. She was already a Bulldog – having been a student at Simmons before she became a teacher there, and says, “This is my family, my family outside of home.” Page’s connections with the staff and her students, reminds her why Simmons is where “I’m supposed to be, doing what I’m supposed to do.” Yet, when Page started classes at Midway College (now Midway University) after she graduated from Woodford County High School in 2002, she thought she’d follow her mom’s path and become a nurse. A couple of years into nursing school, she discovered that “wasn’t my passion. And I quickly figured out that wasn’t what I was meant to do.” After changing her major to elementary education and starting a career in teaching, she no longer had any doubts about her path because “I’m doing what I was supposed to do.” Simmons Elementary’s Teacher of the Year says her passion for teaching kids first surfaced while giving riding lessons – one of her first jobs. “I felt like I could be a positive impact on a child’s life,” says Page of teaching. She says some children need a positive role model in their lives so they’ll want to learn – not just reading and math, but life skills too. No matter the career or job path each child takes in life, she wants all of her students to believe in themselves and who they are when they leave Simmons Elementary. And that all begins with building relationships with them so “they’ll want to learn with you and for you…,” she explains. Page says she was a reading interventionist, and also taught fourth and fifth grades before moving to third grade three years ago. That’s helped her understand why each child has his or her own uniqueness. “No two days are the same and no child is the same. They’re all different and all need different things …” Page says. Reflecting on how in-person instruction ended last March because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Page says she never had an opportunity to have closure with her students and they didn’t have closure with their friends or teachers. That’s why welcoming students back to school at the end of September – after trying to build relationships through a computer screen – was so exciting for everyone. “It’s also made me more thankful for the time that we have in the building to know that at any moment that might be taken away,” says Page. “So I definitely treasure those moments with them even more now.” She says her students are also glad to be back in school and they’re willing to do whatever they’re asked to do – like wearing a mask – if that’s what it takes for them to be in class together. Not being able to hug a student who needs one is tough, but they’ve found other ways. “We elbow bump. We air high-five. We air hug. And even when we do an air hug their eyes light up,” she says. Page says being connected to so many teachers, including teammate Megen Eaves, has carried her through the many changes since the end of last school year and beginning of this year. She and her husband, Allen, have two children, Parker, 8, a second-grader at Simmons, and Audrey, 3. This is the first in a series of stories featuring Woodford County Public Schools’ 2019-20 Teachers of the Year.