Trails Elementary Teacher of the Year, Jenifer Posey, has seen both the classroom and the administrative side to public education. Posey prefers the classroom, with her “group of small people,” mentally cataloguing their successes and challenges while also celebrating the changes as their third-grade year draws to a close.
When Posey decided to enter education, she believed in her heart she would teach fifth grade. She interviewed in El Reno for a fifth grade position, but when she was offered a job, it was for second grade. The job changed to first grade before the first day of school. During her career, she’s taught 3-year-olds through fourth graders.
“I love them all,” she said. “I always think I’m in heaven every year. I always thought it would be fifth grade, but I’ve never taught fifth grade in 22 years. But for each one I’ve taught, I love them like it’s the best thing ever.”
Posey spent seven years of her career
as a principal.
“My last year of teaching (before becoming a principal) was a rough year,” she said. “The principal at the pre-kindergarten/kindergarten center resigned. It was a great age of kids, the secretary was great, the custodian was great and the teachers I worked with were wonderful. It was the trifecta of goodness. I thought, ‘Okay. I’m going to do this.’”
As she unpacked her things in the principal’s office, she thought she would never go back to the classroom.
“Being a principal is often a thankless job,” she said. “It’s so hard. I think it’s the hardest job in education. And it’s very political to a point. I’m just not that girl and I missed the interaction of MY class. I missed MY babies. Once you’re mine, you’re mine. Some of my first students are having kids and they’re my grand-students.”
As a principal, one duty was visiting
classrooms and evaluating teachers. She found creativity and innovation in
almost every room.
“I thought, ‘Man, I could have done this.’ I thought I was a pretty good teacher before, but then I thought I could be a great teacher,” she said. “You take away from all that knowledge and then I have incorporated things they have done in their classrooms.”
She admits her years as a principal “were wonderful,” but it was time to change.
“When I made the decision, my heart was so happy. My own personal children were so happy.”
She and her family moved to Mustang and
Posey applied for an opening at Trails Elementary. She taught second grade last
year and moved up to third this year. Her goal is to create a threat-free
climate with mutual respect. She lives for the Ah-ha moments and making sure
her students know they are loved. Her goal is to learn something every day and
to teach the students responsibility.
“I try to give them as much free reign as possible to solve their problems and to figure out how to get where they want to be,” she said. “I try to give them a longer rope so they can try it, to feel their way before I help them out.”
She enjoys watching their
personalities, how some stay the same and others change. One student who always
wanted to write books for the day is a lawyer now. Another she believes is
destined to be on the world stage is a strong-willed leader at Berkley. One
girly-girl is now the mother of boys making deer sausage and roughing it for
fun with her kids.
“I wish from the beginning I would have written down what I thought they were going to be when they grew up,” she said.
She was thrilled to be chosen Teacher
of the Year.
“It was the biggest, happiest surprise of my life,” she said. “I opened the envelope and there were the nominees. I’ve never been a district where there were so few rules, like a minimum number of years of service in the district. It was such an honor, especially to be chosen among the teachers that are here.”
Posey and her husband have four
children, one who is grown and teaching, a dancer a OCU, a junior and a seventh
grader. She is one of 14 Site Teachers of the Year for Mustang Schools.