Background

Jen LaRussa


Philosophy


Education is my passion. I love teaching and learning and especially collaborating with others to create experiences in discovery for children. When a lesson is meaningful, children freely open themselves to the experience and are not conscious of the exact outcome. Children are conditioned to think that learning begins and ends with the school day, I believe that if you teach a child the importance of creative and critical thinking, you also have created a lifelong learner. It is not always what we learn but how we learn and use and share that knowledge. Children by nature are curious and energetic, so it is the perfect time to expose them to the wonders of learning.


I feel fortunate to have had so many great opportunities collaborating with outstanding educators within the public schools. I have seen that great things can be accomplished by a small group of dedicated professionals and volunteers. Much like adults, children want so much to make a difference in the world and I believe if given the tools, children can make a huge impact on our community.


Professional Background


I am a certified visual arts teacher grades kindergarten through 12th grade. I hold my masters degree in art education having attended the Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, New York for both my undergraduate and graduate visual arts degrees. I received my educational training and certification from Nazareth College, Rochester, New York.


I taught visual arts and arts integration in the East Irondequoit, New York Elementary School District for eight years working at the Durand Eastman Elementary School grades 3-6. During this time, I not only taught the visual arts curriculum, but collaborated with teachers to create an integrated curriculum that used art as a tool to get the children involved in hands on learning in math, music, social studies, science, and english. We also created teacher mentor programs to deal with bullying and self esteem issues within the school. I also created Project Environment, an environmental organization within the school that did community outreach and raised money to donate to environmental organizations around the world. The children had to create the products, manage the funds, research organizations, and directly donate the money. Durand Eastman School proudly adopted a whale, bought rain forest land, and helped the local animal shelter in addition to donating many volunteer hours to the community.


Since moving back to Massachusetts, I been actively involved in the Topsfield community in educational projects for the past eight years.
I was president of the Topsfield Educational Foundation for six years where I was active working with the schools and the community bringing private funding through grants to the Tospfield Elementary Schools. I am vice president of the newly formed Masconomet Education Foundation granting private funds to the Masconomet Regional High School and Junior HIgh School.


I created and ran a FIRST Lego League (FLL) science and technology team program in the Topsfield Elementary Schools for six years. In this program teams of children work with volunteers from the community to learn robotics, engineering , and science based themes each year. I also created and ran for three years a North Shore FLL Robotics tournament where other school teams from around the North Shore come and compete with their robots.


For six years, I taught visual arts classes privately in Topsfield. During this time, I also worked with other community groups such as the Main Street Foundation, Girl Scouts, and the Topsfield Elementary Schools with art outreach.
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