Blog post by: Mrs. Jennifer Nordenson
The last 19 years…..By the numbers:
1998 the year I started teaching at BJAMS
19 years teaching second grade
280 students that have touched my life
40 teachers that I have worked with
10 years as division head
6 students in my first second grade class
11 students in my last second grade class
I was looking through a large box of pictures the other day trying to find some photos the 8th graders had requested. As I rummaged through I came across several pictures of my very first classroom down in the basement of the Crosby Center. It was then that I began to realize that my time as BJAMS’ only second grade teacher is quickly coming to a close.
Nineteen years ago this June I signed my first teaching contract fresh out of college as Bishop Marshall School’s first second grade teacher. I was so excited! I had a job! Who cared that there was no building for this school? Not me! I had a job! Little did I know then the adventure I was about to take on.
The year began just like almost any other school on the first day except in the basement of a parish hall with very few school supplies. I had six kids. Six amazing kids: Jade, Mark, Tomás, Tamara, Emily, and Kelly Ann. Six kids who taught me more than four years of college ever did. Six sets of parents who trusted our school, our mission, and myself regardless of the fact that I had no experience and there was no school building other than the parish hall. That year I learned so many valuable lessons that I still use every day.
Even though we had so little, we made do. We were a small community, a family. And just like all new families, we began to build our own traditions throughout the year such as All Saints Day, weekly mass, or singing at morning assembly. And just like all new families, there were our fair share of struggles, conflicts, and difficulties that needed some work. We shared a great deal of laughs and even some tears along the way. But we were dedicated. We believed in this school and all that it could be.
Soon enough, on All Saints Day 2000, I paraded my third class (a full class of 20!) along with the rest of the school across the streets of Morrisville to 680 Laporte Road – our brand new school ready for move in! After teaching for two full years in a tiny basement classroom, this building was glorious! The tile sparkled, the walls were pristine, and the rooms were just calling for children and teachers to enter to begin learning. And so we did. This dream was now a reality. We were now a school of kindergarten through eighth graders. A school with a building that included offices, storage, a chapel, and a gym!
I think back to those first formative years of the school. It was not at all what I signed up for or what I ever expected. In fact, I’m pretty sure that I never thought I’d still be here in 20 years. But something kept making me come back day after day, year after year. Somewhere along the way I fell in love. Perhaps it was the fact that I was able to be a part of its roots, its very beginning. I had the privilege of being a part of the birth of this little dream that a few Lamoille County parents had to start a Catholic school in Vermont for the first time in fifty years. Not many people can say that. In fact, I only know very few.
Bishop Marshall School became a part of my family and much of who I was and am. While the school blossomed, grew, and flourished so did I. I learned how to be a better teacher with each passing year. I have been blessed to work with over 40 different colleagues each one inspiring in me something new and different. Most importantly, I have had the pleasure of teaching over 280 students. Yes, I counted them up. Two hundred eighty little people who came into my classroom to learn how to be better readers, scientists, write in cursive, and do double digit math facts. Two hundred eighty children who have entered my heart and have never left. Two hundred eighty students who have taught me more about teaching than any professor ever could.
While I am sad to be leaving my classroom, I am eager and excited to take on my new administrative role as Assistant Principal/Director of Enrollment and Marketing. I will miss building the one on one relationships with students as I get to watch them learn and grow, but I am looking forward to continuing to work with all of the BJAMS families as a whole school. I am excited to greet each student every morning as they walk into our building exciting for what the day brings and to say goodbye to them after a full day of learning. I am excited to continue working with a group of fantastic colleagues who are dedicated to making this school the best. I am excited to watch our new second grade teacher learn and experience the magic of our school. I can’t wait for her to watch her new second grade students walk through the door at the end of each August, work with them every day so closely that you don’t even notice how much they are growing and changing, then all of a sudden they are brand new third graders. I am ready to pass on my classroom, a place that I have poured countless hours of hard work and love into, to this new teacher who will hopefully love BJAMS as I do and will strive to make that classroom even better.