November 2016 Winner - Jennie House:(Northeast Middle School)


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Meridian Star Article

For Northeast Middle School educator Jennie House the choice to become a music teacher was an easy one because it was in her blood.

Described as a dedicated, compassionate teacher by her peers and students, that portrayal was highlighted Wednesday when after 21 years as an educator she was named November’s Golden Apple Teacher at a surprise ceremony at the school where she is a band/chorus/drama teacher.

"When I heard my name called I was incredibly shocked and blown away," House said. "I was completely astonished, overwhelmed and very grateful that my students and peers would think so much of me to do something like this."

Deborah Brown, Northeast Middle School principal, said House goes above and beyond what is asked of her.

"If I had to describe her it would be she empowers our students," Brown said. "She is sincere, compassionate about her work, dedicated, and runs our fine arts department very well. We are really excited she is November’s Golden Apple winner.

"She is an excellent teacher and the students love her."

House said having family share the day with her was very special.

"In the last three years, our family has lost our father, mother, and a brother, so having a solid unit of family members here was extraordinary," House said. "My family lives in Alabama so we don’t see each other that often, so having them here today was wonderful."

House said her parents instilled in her at an early age a sense of humbleness, and ability to appreciate the things you are given.

"I do my job, not because I want people to appreciate what I do – I do my job because I love these kids and I want to give something to them," House said. "It’s more about me giving something to them, than it is them giving me praise in return.

"When something like this happens you feel a little undeserving because there are so many teachers out there who work just as hard as I do every day, so the fact they chose me is really remarkable."

Seventh-grade student Talayjah Watkins and former student LaQuinton Holiday said House is deserving of the award.

"She should have gotten this a long time ago, she is such a nice teacher," Watkins said. "She’s not just our teacher, but our best friend. She teaches us things that we will need in life other than just teaching us music."

"I almost cried when she won, and got teary-eyed because she deserved it," Holliday said. "I have been with her since fifth grade. I’m in college now and still her student."

House said her love of music began at an early age in a church that had no musical instruments, just vocal.

"The men in our congregation would take turns leading the congregation in singing each Sunday," House said. "My father was one of the song leaders and would rehearse his songs on Sunday mornings at home. There were six kids and we would all be in different areas of the house getting dressed for church, and daddy would start the singing.

"Soon the house would be filled up with everyone singing in parts. That’s what got me interested in music. I knew at that time it was just in my blood."

House said her most favorite thing about being a teacher is the pride on her student’s faces when they accomplish something they didn’t think they could accomplish, something she said makes for a perfect day.

"My teaching philosophy is – everybody has the capability to learn with the right incentive, right instruction, and the right support, mostly from parents," House said. But, parent participation is much less than when I started, because back then you didn’t have as many parents who were working."

House said her advice to a new teacher would be – be firm, disciplined, and have a rigid classroom management system in place before starting.

"You have to be the teacher, leader and manager in your classroom," House said. "If you don’t your classroom is not run by you it is run by your students. When the class is run by students they are just rehashing things they already know, not new things."

House said music plays an important part in a child’s life.

"Besides the statistical proof that being involved in music helps strengthen test scores and promotes a higher IQ, it’s also a way for kids to express themselves," House said. "If they appear angry or sad, music is a way for them to expel those emotions throughout the day without having to take those emotions out on anyone else, it’s a wonderful tool.

"I think all types of the arts are important whether it be drama, chorus, media painting or sculpting. I think kids that don’t have the opportunity to have it are missing out on something that could make them successful later in life."

House said one day when she retires, she hopes to volunteer her time and services to the local theater as a costume designer.

"I sew a lot and it has bled over into my life with my drama kids, I make all of our costumes," House said. "I also like to cross stitch and cook, but what I really enjoy doing is just hanging out with my husband, because he is the funniest person I know."

House received a laptop and desktop computer, as well as a Teacher of the Month Certificate, $300 cash award, and $150 donation to his Adopt a Classroom account.

The eight monthly winners will be invited to the Golden Apple Teacher of the Year banquet and that winner will again receive a custom made Teacher of the Year Trophy, $2,500 cash to be used at their discretion and a $2,500 scholarship to be awarded to a deserving student in the teacher’s name. The student chosen will also receive a new $1,500 laptop computer.