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Prentiss shows passion, inspiration to her students

By Ashley Wagner Published: November 29, 2012
Prentiss shows passion, inspiration to her students
Artwork created by the students Jennifer Prentiss has inspired covers the wall behind the desk in her Fifth-grade classroom at Barberton Middle School. (Ashley Wagner/Ohio.com)

Fifth-grade math teacher at Barberton Middle School, Jennifer Prentiss, was named to the 2012 Summit County Teaching Team to represent Barberton and was recently honored at the 2012 Summit County Education Celebration.

Prentiss is known for her passion for teaching to most, but to Jolene Reinhart she is also known as "a very memorable hiring." Reinhart is the educational consultant at Summit County Educational Services and was the principal Prentiss began her career with. 

At the celebration, Reinhart shared a memory of the day she decided to hire Prentiss for a full-time teaching position at the former Santrock Elementary in Barberton.

As one of the final candidates for the job, Prentiss was interviewed for the second time by Mr. Tom Sladky, Assistant Superintendent in Barberton at that time.

After the interview, as Prentiss was walking to her car, he asked Reinhart if a decision had been made.

“If she gets to her car and leaves, I may lose one of the best candidates I have ever seen," Reinhart said.

Sladky quickly advised Reinhart not to let that happen and she darted out to catch Prentiss outside of her car. “Mr. Sladky would like to see you in his office,” Reinhart said.  

“He offered her the job and she jumped out of her seat, rushed towards him, threw her arms around his neck and said "Thank you, thank you, thank you!’"

According to Reinhart, Sladky, a serious man, “didn’t smile too often” and was “ in shock” as the passionate young teacher showed her appreciation so aggressively.

“He remembers that moment. He remembers the passion of that young teacher,” Reinhart said.

Prentiss was nominated by her peers for her spot on the teaching team, achieving this honor through hard work and a passion for teaching. She strives to make a difference and uses creative learning methods in her fifth-grade math classes.  

Prentiss says that she is inspired by the students and that helps to drive her passion. “Every group of students is different. Every year is a new and exciting challenge,”  she said. She has found that she learns just as much from them as they do from her.

We took a visit to one of her math classes on Thursday afternoon and found a room filled with energetic fifth-graders separated into teams at several hands-on learning stations. Some of the students worked on a Smart Board practicing long division; others sat along with Prentiss working on function tables.

Students were making up their own problems by rolling dice and selecting numbers at random, creating dice equations. From that point it is up to them to follow the necessary steps and discover the correct answer.

Prentiss believes that with the new buildings, great teachers and recently added technology they have at their fingertips, every student has the opportunity to achieve excellence.  

 “The students inspire me just as much as I try to inspire them. I really want to make a difference in the lives of each and every one of them,” Prentiss said. 

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