Tools For Teachers: Jackie Hendrickson, Decatur High School

If you walk by Room 234 at Decatur High School, you will likely hear an ongoing discussion like this.

“It’s okay to have feelings of affection for someone, but you are also having to figure out where you fit as an individual in this world,” said Jackie Hendrickson.

Ms. Hendrickson is an English teacher with an unorthodox approach to teaching literature.

“Teenagers want to be heard and they deserve to be heard and if we don’t teach them to be heard and how to express themselves, how are they going to grow into the productive people we expect them to grow into?” she said.

Hendrickson’s strategy works.  Her student Emma Brannon made her voice heard with an email to WHNT News 19 nominating Ms. Hendrickson for Tools For Teachers.

She singled out Hendrickson less for her lesson plans, but more for her life lessons.

“She definitely spends all of her time in class talking to us and making us realize we are important and we can impact the world for the better,” said Brannon.

“You can tell by just walking by and looking in the door that there is learning taking place,” said Mark Ward, Decatur High School’s principal.

It’s also one of the reasons we caught her off guard with a $319 thank you.

“Hi.  Guess what? You have been nominated by Emma.  You have won $319 for your classroom,” we told her.

“Oh my gosh, thank you, thank you,” Hendrickson said.  “I don’t know what to do. What can we do?”

“Buy some ice cream,” a student suggested.

Here’s a better idea…

“Buy books, yes,” Hendrickson said.  “Want to buy books.”

Before leaving, we wanted to know what drives a woman who has been teaching for 17 years.

“A lot of it for me is just I love it and it’s very instinctive at times,” Hendrickson said.  “I use English, especially literature in and of itself as a way to show them the world is big, and anything you read is going to have aspects of the world in it.  This is all I have ever done.”

If you would like to nominate a teacher or coach for Tools For Teachers, please click here.


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