Referencing the familiar adage “It takes a village to raise a child,” Sophie Jenrich recalls an experience that changed her career and life. While working as a Kindergarten assistant teacher she met a little boy who showed her she made the right decision to leave her dental-assistant job and pursue teaching. In a room full of kindergarteners who knew their ABC’s and were already starting to read, this little boy for whom English was a second language was really struggling to keep up with his classmates. Jenrich zeroed in on him.
“For me, education is a social justice issue. I think seeing each kid as an individual learner, their strengths and what they need to improve on. Each kid is an individual learner and so you need to cater to those needs,” Jenrich told us.
And that’s exactly what her school did. The Kindergarten teacher offered special attention, tutoring him one-on-one in the classroom. The after-school programs designed lesson plans just for him and there was constant practice at home with his mom. Everyone took a stake in his education.
Jenrich choked up remembering his breakthroughs, “We really had to start from the bottom up and watch him build. And as soon as he knew all of the names of the letters and all of the sounds I wanted to cry because I felt so proud of him. You know he’s come such a long way and to see that progress was really great.”
Jenrich’s student is now in second grade and in her ecstatic words, “He’s doing great!”