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Sam Jennings '11 thrives as young department chair

Sam Jennings, a 2011 mathematics with teacher licensure graduate, is making waves early in his teaching career at South Brunswick High School in Southport, N.C.

Math teacher Sam Jennings laughs with fellow Math teacher Cathy Johnson.

After his first two years of teaching, Jennings was this past summer elevated to the role of Mathematics Department Chair. While continuing to teach and coach the school swim team, Jennings is now also an instructional leader for his department and works with the school administration as well to ensure the department’s success.

Jennings, an NC Teaching Fellow alum, sees building community in his department as an important part of his work, and commented that, “I have to take the responsibility of nine other adults, who are of various ages and years of experience, and help mold us into a cohesive group of math teachers.” The growth in professional community in the department “has in turn helped to grow the conversations and lessons we work together on to create learning for our students.”

Jennings credits his Elon education with helping to lay the foundation for his successful transition into his leadership role: “Elon prepared me to be a leader in knowledge of the Common Core standards and how to develop lessons that are student-centered and less teacher directed. I can create conversations on how to allow the math in our classrooms to be teacher involved, but student lead. The School of Education prepared me for these conversations with my peers.”

Jennings has enjoyed the opportunity to wear different hats in his new role, and feels like he has already grown from his experiences. He added, “What I have learned is that being a leader does not mean that you always know the answer and that you are right. A leader in education is someone who can teach others, mediate, delegate, and create learning for everyone even if it is not you who is doing the teaching." He feels that being a department chair is “making me a better teacher and leader in the process. I know that this experience will help to mold me into the future school administrator that I would like to become.”

Jeff Carpenter,
3/1/2014 4:50 PM