By Chris Dodge
Special to the Messenger
From homemade applesauce dished out at the school’s open house, to annual visits to Halloween sing-alongs, Fletcher Elementary School kindergarten teacher Jennifer “Jenny” Blackman has established enduring traditions at the school that are bound to become her legacy.
Blackman has taught Kindergarten at the Fletcher Elementary School for the past 13 years and is beloved by her students, their families, her colleagues and the community at large. She retired from teaching in late June, with the tremendous respect of all who have had her as a teacher and those who have worked with her.
Before coming to Fletcher Elementary in 2004, Mrs. Blackman worked at the Belvidere School, both as a Title I Reading and Math Teacher and as a Primary Grade Teacher. Before that, she worked as a Reading and Math Specialist at Johnson Elementary and a Kindergarten Teacher in Eden. She was a K-3 Teacher at the Meeting House School in East Fairfield from 1978 to 1982, and a Paraeducator in Concord, MA, before that. In total, Mrs. Blackman has dedicated 33 years to her profession, nearly 30 of which have been as a classroom teacher.
Present and former students, families and colleagues honored Mrs. Blackman at a reception, where the Fletcher School Board presented her with an apple tree, which she and her husband, Oliver, promptly planted near their pond at their Waterville home.
Mrs. Blackman has exemplified what it means to be a lifelong learner, graduating from Champlain College with her Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education in the spring of 2016. She took great pride in sharing her extensive knowledge both with student teachers and with colleagues, including those at regional and national conferences such as the National Association for the Education of Young Children. She is a strong advocate for play as a learning tool and outdoor learning in the natural world. No matter who or what she is teaching, her strengths include honoring the natural curiosity of the student and balancing the academic and social curriculum.
Mrs. Blackman served as the Co-Chair of the Lamoille North Standards Board, supporting the certification and relicensure of professional educators. She was a Lamoille North Literary Magazine judge, Upward Bound Instructor and Assistant Postmaster in Waterville. She has been a School Board Member, Lister, Welcome Baby Home Visitor for Waterville and Belvidere, Community Literacy Team Member, a member of the Vermont Philharmonic Orchestra, Johnson State College Concert Band and the Morrisville Military Band.
In 2004, her then Superintendent, Bob McNamara, wrote the following in his recommendation to the Fletcher School Board about Mrs. Blackman as she applied to join the F.E.S. staff:
I find Jenny to be an active and engaging teacher. Her instructional goals are clear and her presentation is crisp and engaging. She holds the students’ attention and encourages them to actively engage in their learning.
Mrs. Blackman’s teaching has stood the test of time. As she says farewell to our school and teaching, her smile, humor, skill and compassion become her legacy that lives on in the hearts and minds of those she taught.
“Jenny has done so much to help students, colleagues and aspiring teachers at our school,” STEM Teacher Leader Denette Locke said. “She embraces each and every child and family and celebrates their uniqueness. She is brilliant at finding the gifts each person has to offer and honoring children’s natural curiosities. She will be greatly missed.”