Henrico’s Top Teachers – Ellen Jewell

The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree in the case of Ellen Jewell, who followed in the footsteps of her father and became a social studies teacher.

“I pretty much always knew I wanted to teach,” said Jewell, who has been teaching at Hungary Creek Middle School since it opened 10 years ago. “I was fortunate to have really fabulous teachers as a kid who inspired me, and growing up I was around teaching. It instilled a passion of helping kids and helping other people. I fell in love with history and ever since then I have wanted to teach social studies.”

After graduating from William and Mary with a B.S. in mathematics and elementary education, Jewell taught at Brookland Middle and Grace Miller Middle before moving to Hungary Creek.

“There is nothing that I don’t love about teaching middle school,” said Jewell. “Every day is different, the students are so transitional, and I get to see them come in as kids and then they start to become adults. It’s great to be there for that maturity and the transition from being dependent on someone, to being independent. I love social studies because I study the past, and it's fascinating how life has changes and stays the same.”

Jewell believes that every year holds a special moment. Seeing kids who have struggled in class or disliked social studies grow and then fall in love with the subject has made a lifelong impact on her as a teacher. One of her favorite parts of teaching is making a lasting impression and memory that is sustained throughout a student's entire life.

“There are numerous examples that I could cite where Mrs. Jewell’s teaching positively impacted her students,” wrote a faculty member at Hungary Creek. “Her impact is so meaningful and it is evidenced by adult previous students who have reached out to their sixth-grade teacher [Jewell] when they experience personal struggle. This lasting connection was established through Mrs. Jewell’s consistent top-notch teaching.”

Jewell tries to incorporate computer-oriented learning into every classroom and uses a lot of art and group projects to spark students’ interest. Her impeccable knowledge of history, combined with her ability to make her lessons personal and rigorous, instill a sense of empowerment in her students.

“I know my students [aside from them] being kids that are in my class," she said. "I like to find out if they have siblings, their interests and what they’re good at, because even if they struggle academically there is something they are good at. If I can connect that to the classroom, it’s beneficial for everyone.”

During a unit on the first five presidents, for example, Jewell not only taught her students about the presidents but had them apply their critical thinking and creative skills to create 3-D monuments to honor one. She incorporated real-world connections by also having the students work with Timothy Nosal, the director of the National Battlefield Monument Commission.

Jewell said that her ability to shine as an educator has been made possible because of the faculty and staff that surround her at Hungary Creek.

“Hands down, the people make my job possible and the camaraderie we have here is priceless,” said Jewell. “It’s a family – you can’t replicate that. It's something that just happens. The people support one another and love one another and truly care about you as a person. When you have a staff like this, it makes the job easier and everyone else able to be a better teacher because everyone around you is just as passionate.”

That passion is something that at least one coworker believes starts with Jewell herself.

“She treats her teachers with the same kindness and generosity which, when combined with her impeccable knowledge of history, empowers her social studies teachers to be the best teachers that they can be,” a fellow teacher wrote. “As a result, Mrs. Jewell is a master teacher who not only ensures that her students excel in social studies, she has an enigmatic ability to help her students believe in their abilities as a human being while cultivating a life-long thirst for knowledge.”
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Henrico Business Bulletin Board

September 2017

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The Open University of The Shepherd’s Center of Richmond will present Lunch and Life, a four-week series open to all persons 50+ at no charge, at St. Mary Catholic Church, 9505 Gayton Rd. Today’s speaker, Ed Slipek, architectural historian and contributing editor at Style Weekly, will present “Richmond and World War I.” A bag lunch will begin at noon, with beverages and dessert provided by the church; the speaker will start at 12:30 p.m. For details, call 355-7282 or visit http://www.tscor.org. Full text

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Henrico's Top Teachers

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