“It’s like a family,” Jennifer Carlson said. She graduated from Union in 2017 from the elementary education program and has returned to teach the upper grades at George Stone School, the multi-grade school annexed to Rees Hall. Previously she taught fifth grade for four years at Spencerville Adventist Academy in Maryland.
Teaching a multi-grade classroom presents many challenges, but the environment is something that Jennifer loves. “I’m able to meet their needs and have a one-on-one connection with the kids,” she said. “It really helps me build a relationship with them, which I think is the number one thing you should do as a teacher.”
Jennifer found that the smaller class size and the multi-grade environment fosters better connections between the kids. “The older ones understand it’s their responsibility to show the younger ones how to act and how to be respectful,” she said. “They care about one another and they protect the little kids. It’s like a little family bond.”
In addition to teaching elementary students, Jennifer also works with education majors in their student teaching. Union is one of the few colleges with a lab school on campus, giving education majors easy access to engage in student teaching. Jennifer completed her own student teaching in the same classroom. “Union College had an outstanding education program,” she said.
As a student, Jennifer loved being at Union and in Lincoln. “I loved it here. It’s such a small place that’s a little bit city but still with some country,” she said. “Coming back, it was surprising to see all the changes here, but it was just wonderful to be involved in this community.” She’s looking forward to life in Lincoln with her two children and her husband, Eric Carlson. “The people here are nice and friendly, and it’s a great place to raise a family and that’s my priority—finding somewhere fun and exciting to live.”
By Maria Kercher, senior communication major