New Faculty Spotlight: Amber Jenkins '02

Teacher – Upper School English
Department and Program Affiliations:
Upper School, English

Asst. Coach, Junior Orange Volleyball

Academic background:
Norfolk Academy ’02
B.A., Writing Seminars, Johns Hopkins University
M.A., Humanities, Johns Hopkins University
M.F.A., Creative Writing (Poetry), University of Virginia
Ph.D., English, University of Kentucky

How long have you been at Norfolk Academy?
This is my first year on the faculty at Norfolk Academy; however, I am an alum and Twelve Year Survivor, so, in many ways, this is a homecoming.

Tell us why you wanted to become an educator:
Oh, I love this question so much. To foster curiosity in young minds—to strike up that urgent, lifelong desire for knowledge and understanding—and to simultaneously cultivate in those minds a love of beauty—that tenderness of heart toward creation, whether artistic or natural—is what education at its best does, and it is what it does especially well in the humanities. The excitement of being a part of this process—igniting it, tending it, and then watching it blaze on of its own volition—is what drives me to teach. In other words, to serve as an educator is—to my mind—to direct individuals toward the heights of achievement in the ways that make them most human. It is a deeply fulfilling pursuit. I cannot imagine being happier doing anything else.

What most excites you about working at Norfolk Academy?
The approach to education, which is that students are treated holistically. They are asked to excel not just intellectually but ethically, the ideal result being graduates who are not merely smart, but honorable, cultured, respectful, and engaged citizens.

Norfolk Academy is unique because…
...of the faculty and staff. I graduated in 2002; sixteen years later, I now find myself colleagues with my former teachers and soccer coaches. People come to Norfolk Academy, and they stay. I have worked in both instructional and administrative roles in a diversity of educational settings for the past eleven years, and the culture and spirit of collegiality among the faculty and staff on this campus are truly inimitable.

Last book read:
History of Beauty, edited by Umberto Eco and translated by Alastair McEwan

What do you like to do in your own time/when you’re not working?  
I really enjoy reading and writing, so that part of the job bleeds over. I always have at least one book and one writing project underway. I also like to run, cook, and travel, and I love live music, ballet, and art museums. But most of my time outside of work is spent with my twin sons, doing with them all the awesome things four-year-old boys do, which usually involve T-rexes, trains, or bulldozers and nearly always can be classified as “adventures.” The imaginations and hearts of those little boys are the greatest joys in my life. So miraculous and humbling.
Favorite food?
I could go out for Mexican food every day of the week, and I will almost always order the Speedy Gonzales. It’s just an enchilada, taco, and rice, but something about that combination: I love it so much.

A movie is being made about your life. Who would they cast to play you?
Oh please let it be Troian Bellisario!
Fun facts your students might find surprising:
On the weekends while I was completing my doctorate in Kentucky, I rode Tennessee Walking Horses competitively (in flat-shod pleasure divisions only, not padded, for any horse people!); I am an American Council on Exercise certified personal trainer; and, when I was a student at Norfolk Academy, I had perfect attendance for all twelve years.

“When I grow up, I want to be…”
...a designer for a fashion house in Milan? Screenwriter for Netflix? Owner of a restaurant that specializes in barbecue and pancakes? We’re dreaming, right?