Teacher Appreciation: Jen Chapman, Big Cross

Glens Falls City School District recognizes national Teacher Appreciation Week by highlighting committed and enthusiastic teachers from every one of our schools each day of the week! Read on for an inside interview with Jennifer Chapman—one of the most dynamic teachers around our district.

teacher and student working togehter in classoom, smiling with teacher appreciation week 2022 logo

Jen Chapman teaches reading at Big Cross Street School. She graduated from Hudson Falls High School, and then completed an associate’s degree at SUNY Adirondack, a bachelor’s degree in elementary education at SUNY Plattsburgh, a master’s in special education at the College of Saint Rose, and then another master’s degree in Literacy at Plattsburgh. She enjoys being a student as much as she enjoys being a teacher!

What is the best thing about teaching at Big Cross?
Big Cross Street School is truly a family. We are committed to working together to meet the unique needs of each of our students. I am lucky to work with amazing people and there is no place I’d rather be. I started teaching in Glens Falls in 1997 and I’ve seen SO many changes in those years, from chalkboards and overhead projectors to 1:1 Chromebooks and Google Classroom. I can’t wait to see what changes the final decade of my teaching career holds in store.

teacher and student highlighting a word bingo card in the classroom
Jen Chapman of Big Cross

Describe your favorite lesson or unit from this year … and what did the kids think of it?
I think my best lessons are the ones that help students use reading & writing to connect with their lives and the communities they live in. For example, for Veteran’s Day, I asked my students to write thank you notes to local veterans. Many of them had family members who served, so they were able to make personal connections to the idea. They loved it when the American Legion folks wrote back to thank them and sent pictures of the letters & artwork decorating the legion hall. Throughout the year, we also write cards to nursing home residents for the holidays, send letters to the president for Presidents’ Day, and perform reader’s theater plays that we share with the whole school for different holidays and occasions. Learning becomes more meaningful when it’s tied to “real-life” experiences like these.

How was pandemic teaching for you? How are you doing now?
Pandemic teaching was definitely challenging! I appreciated everything the school district did to keep students and staff safe and in school, but I am very glad to be getting back to a more normal school experience. I’m finding renewed joy in many of the little things I might have taken for granted in the past before COVID.

Can you describe your efforts on getting students published in multiple books, Project Cameron’s Story, and the PTA scholarship?
As a reading teacher, building reading/writing skills is obviously my priority, but I also have a strong desire to see the students of Big Cross School have their moment to shine. This year I had 12 students get their original works of writing chosen, out of thousands of entries, for publication in a young writers anthology. A few of the students told me that they now want to be writers when they grow up. Being able to share in their excitement and pride was so rewarding. That is why I have also been involved in awarding the Big Cross PTA scholarship for the past few years. I love being able to learn what great things our former Big Cross students have achieved and what their plans are for the future. Lastly, I have been the school coordinator for the Project: Cameron’s Story book collection for the past 11 years. It is so important that children are read to, and this amazing charity donates books to NICUs across NY state so that parents can begin reading to their newborns right from the start.

group of four students making words on a desk with a teacher smiling