USC Rossier Graduate Jennifer Nelson Featured in Futures Magazine
Having logged more than 12,000 student teaching placements and nearly 1.7 million hours of fieldwork in 650 school districts, students from the USC Rossier School of Education are practicing what they learned. Jennifer Nelson (MAT ’11), a seventh grade English teacher at the Future Leaders Institute Charter School in New York City, is one of them.
Nelson, who earned her Master of Arts in Teaching from USC Rossier’s online program was recently featured in an article in Futures in Urban Ed magazine highlighting how USC Rossier courses help prepare students for their careers.
Last November, USC Rossier Professor of Clinical Education Margo Pensavalle flew to New York to pay Nelson a visit. She was on the road, observing graduates and interviewing school administrators and teachers who have hosted and mentored USC student teachers in the past. Upon visiting Nelson’s classroom, Pensavalle liked what she saw.
Nelson and her co-teacher, Daniel Née, were using novelist Gary Paulsen’s acclaimed nonfiction book, Winterdance: The Fine Madness of Running an Iditarod, as part of a writing lesson that focused on organization.
“Jennifer was using many of the strategies that she learned in our program,” Pensavalle said, “and in a way that just really engaged the kids. She was being accountable to the kids while also being accountable to good practices.”
According to Nelson, her students would not have been successful during the lesson if they didn’t already have an interest in reading. She recalled the impact that one book in particular, Literacy with Attitude, had in teaching her how important it was for kids to learn to see themselves as readers.
“It starts by finding just the perfect book for them, having them be empowered to make those choices for themselves,” she said.
Another takeaway that has stuck with Nelson throughout her career is the philosophy of “warm strict” — the idea of letting her students know that she loved them while also holding them accountable by keeping expectations high.
“I carry that with me,” she said. “ I think I even wrote a paper about ‘warm strict’ in grad school.”