Jessica Jenkins, 5th grade online teacher at Monte Sano Elementary, accepted the challenge of creating a family literacy event as a requirement of her Panda Cares New Teacher Fellowship with Panda Express. This fellowship was created in June 2020 to support and retain early-career teachers and help them develop as leaders in the profession. It especially aims to support new teachers working in underserved communities. With the help of the fellowship program, Jessica organized the school’s first “Teachers’ Bedtime Stories,” a virtual bedtime story event on March 10, 2021 and it was a raving success. According to Jessica, teachers and families loved the event so much they are planning on holding another event in May.
The teachers’ bedtime stories program was created with families in mind. Jessica said the event was open to all students, Pre-K through 5th grade. Teachers even encouraged older and younger siblings to attend together to make it a true family night event.
The event was a school-wide bedtime story night, in which students and their families attended virtually and had the option to choose one of five books, read and moderated by school faculty and staff. Over 60 individual students and their families participated.
In addition to her work with the Panda Cares New Teacher fellowship and attending Augusta University in the Advanced Educational Studies Education Specialist program, Jessica is also a Teacher Consultant for the Augusta University Writing Project (AUWP). The AUWP is a national writing project with 175 writing project sites, based in universities nationwide. Once a teacher completes the AUWP Summer Institute, they may have an opportunity to become a Teacher Consultant. According to AUWP Site Director, Dr. Rebecca Harper, many teachers don’t receive enough professional development in writing and teaching writing, this program empowers teachers to become teacher leaders in the field.
When discussing her experience as a Teacher Consultant with AUWP, Jessica said. “To be an AUWP Consultant is a blessing. In a few months, I was able to learn so much about myself as a writer and writing itself…Dr. Rebecca Harper does an amazing job with stretching our minds and helping us think outside of the box with teaching writing. I have learned to find a love and understanding for writing thanks to the AUWP. Being an AUWP Teacher Consultant gives me an opportunity to spread my understanding of writing with my fellow teachers and advocate for writing in the manner Dr. Harper has poured onto us within the AUWP.”