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Meet One of Edmentum’s Inspiring Educators, Jerry Hodge from Stafford High School in Texas

Meet One of Edmentum’s Inspiring Educators, Jerry Hodge from Stafford High School in Texas

“This educator would be my teacher choice for my own son. She is irreplaceable.”

Is there a greater compliment that one can get from one’s principal? This was the ringing endorsement that Edmentum’s Inspiring Educator, Jerry Hodge, received from her principal, Carlotta Allen.

Last month, Jerry, a Quest Academy teacher at Stafford High in Stafford, Texas, was chosen as one of Edmentum’s 2018 Inspiring Educators, as part of our Educator of the Year Award, in recognition of her exemplary implementation of technology and innovative strategies to keep students engaged in the classroom. We had the opportunity to chat with her about her career in education, her dedication to her students, and her thoughts on what being named an Inspiring Educator means to her.

Right off the bat, we could see how Jerry demonstrates compassion for all students she works with as she strives to give them the best classroom experience possible. She goes out of her way to make sure that her students feel comfortable and "at home" when they are in her classroom, bringing water bottles for her students, allowing snacks, and even providing extra coats and umbrellas for her students to use.

Edmentum asked customers to nominate fellow educators who are making an impact on the lives of students. In her nomination for Jerry, Carlotta wrote in detail about how Jerry goes above and beyond to be there for her students.

"She spends countless hours serving our students beyond district recommended time,” Carlotta wrote. “Jerry incorporated home visits as an additional outreach component. . . . She even visited one of our students in jail. She brought necessities that he needed to maintain in the facility, and she encouraged him to return to the Quest program to finish school."

The Quest Academy program at Stafford High is designed for at-risk students who are not likely to graduate, and it gives them an opportunity to recover denied credits and then to proceed with original credit courses once they have finished their credit recovery courses. Because it’s mostly an online lab, students create their own school schedule and come in for 20 hours throughout the week based on their availability. Jerry says that one of the key pieces to the students’ success in the Quest Academy program is constant motivation.

“When I schedule, I start my students out each year and I make them a yearly plan,” Jerry said. “And, so I try to pace them where they have a course that will move a little bit faster. Maybe a credit recovery followed by an original credit course. Then do a credit recovery. Then do an original credit course. So that they're keeping up the momentum.”

Jerry said that once her students realize that they have more control over their learning, they get excited.

“Once the students at the beginning of the year see their visions for the year and they realize this is my plan and I can work faster if I want to, we set goals. And, from there, they really take hold of their future. They really realize, ‘Wow, I can be done by spring break if I want to be done.’ Or, ‘If I want to get a job, I can integrate a job and work at a slightly slower pace.’ So, it's really neat for the students.”

Her frequent check-ins are part of the reason that her students do so well in the Quest Academy program. She also attributes some of their success to Courseware for credit recovery, as well as Study Island to prepare students for state testing.

"Study Island has been a blessing with our state tests for Texas,” said Jerry. “Our students have to take five different STAAR exams, so Study Island has been a wonderful, wonderful remediation tool for our end-of-course testing."

Jerry has become an advocate for using Courseware and Study Island as she oversees most of the online curriculum for the district. She creates custom courses and instruction manuals, and she’s even held mini Edmentum workshops so that other educators can successfully implement blended learning into their classrooms as well. 

Jerry holds many roles at Stafford, including curriculum development and alignment, modifying work for special education students, tracking data for reporting, and creating activities to parallel online coursework. Her hard work doesn’t go unnoticed, and her students love and respect her greatly.

Like many educators, Jerry didn't initially realize her passion would be to work with students like the ones in her Quest Academy class, but her professional experience has led her to take on her current role where she is truly excelling. 

While in college, Jerry started out pursuing dentistry, but with a family full of educators and with encouragement of her English teachers, she ended up with a degree in secondary education with majors in English and psychology. After college, she taught English for about seven years and then moved on to pursue a part-time job and spend more time with her son.

One summer, while she was still in her part-time position with Surescore, she worked at University of Houston teaching at-risk high school students from all over Houston.

"It would be me and about 50 kids in this huge auditorium,” said Jerry. “It was kind of intimidating, but it just worked, and it clicked. And, I had a passion for these kids."

Jerry realized that she wanted to go back to education full time, but she still wanted the flexibility to work around her son's schedule as well. With the Quest Academy program, she found that she was able to work different hours, and everything fell into place. 

After about four years of working as a Quest Academy teacher, Jerry also decided to pursue her Master of Education in counseling to integrate those skills into her teaching.   

"I wanted to be professionally trained to work with the students and to be able to provide them with information about graduation planning, upcoming careers, etc. With that said, I take time to listen to my students, to academically advise, and to support."

And that’s just what she did. Jerry’s fellow educators and school principal have all witnessed her advising, counseling, encouraging and realigning students.

When asked what winning this award meant to her Jerry said, “I mean it truly means the world to me. It's just nice to have the extra pat on the back so to speak for the work that goes into everything. This kind of national award depicts the value of true leadership as well; through the efforts of our principal this year, Ms. Allen, we have been able to set new goals and make further refinements for our program. She also has a true heart for the students and together we have really been able to make positive changes for our online learners. On the outside, people don't even realize the basics of online learning. People kind of think there's a magic wand and poof, the kid's in the class and the computer's going to handle everything. And although it's a wonderful program, there's still so much planning and so much organization that goes into everything… winning this award gives me a newly refreshed drive and I'm even more excited to be a part of our online learning program.”

Please join us as we congratulate one of Edmentum’s Inspiring Educators, Jerry Hodge! We know that she’ll continue to motivate her students and help them succeed! Thanks for your amazing work, Jerry!

Interested in learning more about Edmentum’s Educator of the Year Award and this year’s Inspiring Educator honorees? Take a look at this blog post announcing all of this year’s winners, and check back for more winner profiles coming soon!