A room full of kindergartners can be perceived as one of two things: 1) a screaming vortex of eager youngsters, or 2) a chance.
For Jennifer Zmolek, it’s “opportunity knocking.”
That raw, unbridled joy is a major reason why Zmolek, having just competed her fourth year at Jefferson-Scranton Elementary, enjoys her job so much.
“I get hugs and ‘I love yous’ every day,” she says. “They’re just so eager to learn, and at this age, they still like school, which is important. It’s fun to watch them figure things out. Kindergarten is the best fit for me. I really enjoy their enthusiasm.”
Kindergarten is every child’s first real school experience, and Zmolek believes that it’s important to make a good impression and have each child’s experience be a positive one. How that happens isn’t important, it just that it does.
A typical class with this age of youngsters might consist of spending a lot of just sitting and going through memorization techniques. While Zmolek does indeed incorporate a bit of both, she’ll also have her students singing and playing games in order for them to be where they need to be by the end of each school year.
“They need to grow and understand what they are learning,” she says.
Zmolek, herself, didn’t take a direct route either. She started out her career by substituting for a couple of years before becoming a daycare director in Newton. When she had her children of her own, she had her own daycare in her home for six years. She and her husband, Pat, then moved away, and Zmolek spent the next few years raising her three children, Shawon, Morgan and Meaghan.
The family moved to Jefferson a few years later, a place that Pat had called homeduring his youth. Soon, Zmolek was back to helping youngsters.
“It’s a great school, and I really enjoy working with children here,” she says.
In her free time, Zmolek enjoys gardening, walking and playing games with her family.