Jolene Niemeyer still exudes excitement and enthusiasm for teaching after 36 years with the Perry Community School District.
“I’m currently the most tenured teacher here,” she says. “I first taught fifth grade at the Dawson school (which is no longer used). I have taught in every single building in the district.”
Niemeyer teaches social studies to eighth graders, and is the talented and gifted coordinator at the Perry Middle School.
Years of teaching have not diminished her enjoyment of helping children learn.
“I love knowing I can have input in the lives of kids, not only with knowledge, but teaching them about skills and attitudes it takes to be successful,” she says.
She likes the idea of teaching young people to be lifelong learners, and stresses that with her students. Niemeyer teaches American History as part of the social studies curriculum, from the Ice Age and the journey of ancient peoples across the land bridge, up through the Civil War.
“I really try to find methods that work for all types of learners,” she says. “My teaching style is not so much to give them all the information but encourage them to process information and to think about what they learn at a higher level. Kids often find history boring. That’s why it is important to connect the past to present-day.”
During the section on the American Revolution, Niemeyer has the students reconstruct the debates that went on in the first and second Continental Congress. They each take on a character from the era and debate the pros and cons of actions being taken at that time.
Niemeyer helps the students look at the successes and failures of what has happened in the past, and how the lessons from both can help people avoid the failures today.
“The best thing for me about teaching is seeing students come into class apathetic about what I’m teaching, and then begin to see the students gain some excitement and begin seeing how relevant history is to the present,” she says. “It is really about watching the students change from passive learners to active learners.”