Submitted by Sarah Woog from the The Washington County Consortium.
Meet Jeanna Carver, Pre-K Teacher at Jonesport Elementary School and 2019 Washington County Teacher of the Year
When the announcement was made that Jeanna Carver was Washington County’s 2019 Teacher of the Year, I knew she was the next educator to profile. I met Jeanna Carver in her classroom at Jonesport Elementary last week during her 45 minute “specials” break.
After talking with Jeanna for a few minutes, I told her she was going to be a legend. A little further into the conversation, I was thinking she may already be. Jeanna achieved future legend status in my mind when she shared she hoped to be the Pre-K teacher at Jonesport Elementary until retirement, or “as long as I can physically handle it.” Sitting on rugs and and keeping up with little ones is physically taxing! Jeanna has been at Jonesport Elementary for her entire teaching career. A teacher from a rural coastal town, educated first on an island school and then at the local college, the University of Maine at Machias, to teach in the community in which she was raised, and staying to reach generations of Pre-K students at the same school, now that’s the making of a legend.
But let’s talk about Jeanna’s current legend status. She was nominated for Teacher of the Year by a parent. The parent said of Jeanna: “Mrs. Carver is great at what she does and always made them feel comfortable. She is very nurturing and kind. She creates a safe learning environment and demonstrates extreme patience for those just starting to learn. She is also very creative with her lessons and this instills a love of learning for her students.” And that only scratched the surface.
Jeanna is not only nurturing and kind with her students, but with their families as well. Jeanna shared, “Bringing kids to school for the first time can bring back bad memories.” She is keenly aware of the many reasons families in Washington County may not engage with their children’s schools- their own negative experiences in school, feelings of shame around lack of resources, apprehension because content or routines feel inaccessible. Jeanna works to engage families and make them feel like welcome and vital partners in their children’s education. She regularly takes pictures of her students busy in school and shares them with their parents. “Parents love pictures. I send pictures home, and it gives parents an entry point.” Her attendance for open house nights is near 100%.
Jeanna wanted to make it clear to me her success doesn’t exist in a vacuum. She wanted to share credit. I feel like that’s a very educator thing to do. Fortunately, at Jonesport Elementary, there is a lot of credit to go around. Jeanna’s collaboration with the Kindergarten teacher, Allison Beal, is an important aspect of her success. They bounce ideas off each other, share strategies for engagement, and make sure there is consistency in routines from one grade level to the next. Also deserving of credit is the collaboration between TREE (Transforming Rural Experience in Education) and Jonesport Elementary. It has brought food pantry and clothing closet, offering resources for families in a way that destigmatizes accessing such resources. In partnership with TREE there are also school-wide celebrations and the implementation of trauma-informed practices. The whole staff at Jonesport Elementary deserves credit, too. Together they implement practices from Responsive Classroom (https://www.responsiveclassroom.org) and the principal, Melissa Tenney, has designated time for the entire school to hold morning meetings.
There are a lot of great things going on at Jonesport Elementary. Jeanna Carver is doing a lot of great things. I suppose we do not have to determine whether Jeanna is a current or future legend. She’s our Teacher of the Year, nominated by a parent, sitting on rugs as long as her body can handle it, raising duck eggs, caterpillars and salmon eggs with Pre-K kids, and celebrating the work of those around her. That’s legendary enough.