Henrico’s Top Teachers – John Jeter

John Jeter didn’t need any help finding his classroom on his first day as an exceptional education teacher at Tuckahoe Middle School six years ago – he’d attended class in it as a gifted and talented student at Tuckahoe years earlier.

“It is unusual coming back to your school,” he said, with a chuckle. “When I came back [as a teacher], there were four or five teachers here that I had had as a student, and one is still here.”

But the return has been a meaningful one for Jeter, who spent six years teaching exceptional education at Fairfield Middle School before moving to Tuckahoe.

Jeter began his career as a teaching assistant working with students with disabilities.

“I thought it was a worthy thing, a noble thing,” he said. “But once I came to Henrico County and started working toward [teacher] licensure, I lost that whole idea that it was a noble, upstanding type of thing and just realized that we’ve got a lot of kids in this county who need our help. They don’t often have advocates for them. Their parents don’t always understand their special needs.

“I wanted to be an advocate for those kids and parents. Sometimes it makes all the difference in the world when they know that they’ve got someone on the other side of the table they know they can really count on.”

Jeter teaches two self-contained classes for exceptional education students, primarily those who need extra help with English and social studies. He and other exceptional education teachers also serve as case managers for EE students, helping to craft and review each student’s individualized education plan, or IEP.

Jeter also is an administrative aide at the school, working toward his eventual goal of becoming an administrator. His dual roles can become taxing at times, but Jeter enjoys them both. He particularly appreciates the moments when students are able to overcome the struggles they’ve experienced with a particular subject.

“A lot of my students [initially] think that being in the small classroom is being in the ‘stupid’ class,” Jeter said. “But that’s not the case. They have a deficit in a certain area, but we’re going to help them overcome it.

“The light bulb, when that thing goes on [for students], that’s the most exciting thing in the world. That’s why you get into this business.”

A parent who wrote to nominate Jeter as a top teacher said that he had made a clear impact.

“He is amazing with my son who has severe ADHD,” the parent wrote. “Mr. Jeter is always available to discuss issues concerning my son day or night. He keeps us all on track!”

Sometimes, flipping the learning switch in a child’s mind requires late afternoons or weekends spent working with students at school or a library, helping them to take a vested interest in their own successes and academic achievements.

“A child may not be thrilled that they’re at school on a Friday night, but they recognize, ‘There’s another adult that I can trust that cares about me,’” he said. “They go from, ‘I don’t want to be here,’ to ‘I want to start advocating for myself.’”
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September 2017
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Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden will offer the class “Garden to Glass: Cocktails from Late Summer’s Bounty” from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Learn how to use smoked, charred and grilled produce from the late summer harvest to create delicious craft cocktails and accompanying hors d’oeuvres. Cost is $24 for Garden members and $37 for nonmembers; fee includes samples of the cocktail recipes, hors d’oeuvres and admission to the final evening of Flowers After 5. To register, visit http://www.lewisginter.org. Full text

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