Kristin Jennison remembers visiting the Collegiate School campus last year and feeling an instant connection.
“I was visiting my best friend from college, Emma Harrison, who had just begun teaching 4th Grade. The moment I stepped on campus, I knew I wanted to become part of the Collegiate community,” said Ms. Jennison. “It is a glass-half-full environment. Students here have so many unique opportunities, and the faculty is committed to developing strong relationships and a space high in engagement and exploration.”
In fall 2018, Ms. Jennison joined her friend (and lots more new ones since then!) on the faculty as a 2nd Grade teacher, bringing with her the love of teaching she first discovered as a young girl helping her mother, who was also a teacher.
“My childhood is full of memories working in her classroom, cutting lamination, organizing the sensory table and gathering props for her next read-aloud. Teaching is in her soul, and I am grateful she passed the love of learning on to me,” said Ms. Jennison.
The Medford, New Jersey, native first came to Richmond as a student at the University of Richmond, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education. Following graduation, she began teaching at Harvie Elementary School in Henrico County, and a year later, started working towards her master’s degree in education at the University of Virginia. In 2015, she completed her degree and moved to Fairfax County, where she taught 1st Grade until moving to Kalamazoo, Michigan, to work as a district literacy coach — a position she maintained until assuming her current role at Collegiate.
Her first year in the Lower School has been a happy whirlwind of getting to know her students and building strong relationships. “There is nothing better than seeing my students set goals, overcome obstacles and celebrate their accomplishments,” she said. “My students, their families and my colleagues are an extension of my family.”
The feeling seems to be mutual. When she recently adopted a 5-year old beagle-bulldog named Sawyer, the adorable brown and white dog became a frequent topic of conversation in her classroom. “A few weeks after adopting Sawyer, one of my students adopted a mirror-image puppy, naming him Sawyer as well. As my student’s mom said, ‘Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery!’” Ms. Jennison said.
New to Collegiate’s traditions, she has most enjoyed 2nd Grade’s States Fair. “The collaboration to put on the culminating performance and hat parade … is impressive,” she said. “It is incredible to have teachers from art, music, dance and technology, as well as librarians, classroom teachers, assistants and families all come together to support students in this endeavor.”
Joining the Lower School faculty has been a singular experience for Ms. Jennison, who has had the opportunity to work in a variety of settings. “In each school I’ve had a positive experience, but there is something different about Collegiate,” she said. “Parents and colleagues will stop me around campus and ask, ‘How are you settling in? How’s your first year at Collegiate?’ The best way I can sum it up is that I feel at home.”