Faculty Spotlight: Jennifer Rodgers '97

Teacher – Middle School English; Executive Director, Breakthrough at Norfolk Academy
Department and Program Affiliations:
Middle School, English Department, Breakthrough, Virginia Diversity Network

Head Coach, Bulldog Volleyball

Academic background:
Norfolk Academy ’97
B.A., Sociology, The University of Virginia
M.S. Ed., Secondary Education, Old Dominion University

How long have you been at Norfolk Academy?
This year is my 16th year of teaching at Norfolk Academy.

Tell us why you wanted to become an educator:
I did not have an immediate interest in teaching. I realized that I had a passion for teaching and coaching youth while I was an intern in the Middle School during my first year at the Academy. I strongly believe that education is the key to shaping the hearts and minds of young people who will then go out into the world and make it a better place for all of us.

What most excites you about working at Norfolk Academy?
I’m excited to work at Norfolk Academy because working here is much more than having a “job.” I believe that I’m fulfilling a calling and a purpose that impacts my students and fellow teachers each day. I have many different relationships with my students, such as being their teacher, coach, or advisor, which enables me to form meaningful relationships with them that extend outside of the classroom. I genuinely feel as though I’m coming to my second home each day rather than coming to work!

Norfolk Academy is unique because…
...we place character development and spiritual and moral values even over academic achievement. As a student at the school, the Honor System instilled a sense of integrity in me that has contributed to the person I am today.

What do you like to do in your own time/when you’re not working?  
I enjoy spending time with my family. My youngest children are three and six-year-old boys, and they keep me plenty busy!

Last book read:
I’m reading Make Just One Change by Dan Rothstein and Luz Santana. I heard Luz speak at the People of Color Conference in December, and she made a compelling case for helping students become better at asking questions, a skill that students tend to use less and less frequently as they progress through school.

Favorite food?
Dark chocolate and any dessert made from it. Yum!

A movie is being made about your life. Who would they cast to play you?
Gabrielle Union because she tends to play intelligent, passionate, strong-willed women with humorous quirks and flaws. I also enjoy some of her movies.

Fun fact your students might not know about you/might find surprising:
As a child, I performed with the Hurrah Players.

“When I grow up, I want to be…”
...at peace with whatever I’ve accomplished in life with no (or few) regrets!