GREENBRIER — Sarah Jerry likes to approach things differently as she teaches students in her Gifted and Talented classes at Greenbrier Eastside Elementary School.
During a recent visit to her classroom, Jerry, 32, was helping third-graders create “fake” Facebook accounts on their laptop computers. The students were studying the book The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, by John Boyne, a story about the Holocaust as told from the prospective of a young boy.
“Each student has taken a different character in the story and is posting how that character would feel as he or she travels around,” Jerry said. “They are creating profiles for their Facebook friends, including finding photographs and biographies for those friends.
“This is just a unique way to analyze a character and to take on that character’s perspective and point of view.”
For work like this, Jerry has been named one of 100 educators selected for the 2014 PBS LearningMedia Digital Innovators program. She is the only teacher from Arkansas to receive this honor.
According to the program’s website, the program rewards tech-savvy K-12 educators from across the country who are serving as leaders in the education technology space and incorporating digital media in classrooms to promote student engagement and achievement with year-long, hands-on and virtual professional-development opportunities.
“AETN is proud to recognize Sarah Jerry for her dedication to truly changing the way students learn through technology and digital media,” said Bryan Fields, director of education for the Arkansas Educational Television Network. “We are honored to provide educators with one-of-a-kind resources, tools and training that will further enhance their skills and enable them to share these skills with other educators in Arkansas.”
A native of Benton, Jerry has been employed at Greenbrier Eastside for nine years. She will be the assistant principal at Greenbrier Junior High School next year.
She and her husband, Jarrod, 34, have three children: Brady, 13; JoJo, 9; and Braxton, 6.
Jerry graduated from Benton High School in 1999. She has Bachelor of Science in Education degree from the University of Central Arkansas in Conway and a master’s degree in gifted and talented education from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. She is expected to complete an Educational Specialist degree in building administration this semester at UCA.
Jerry said her principal sent out an email in November telling the faculty about the PBS LearningMedia Digital Innovators program and encouraged them to apply.
“I applied,” Jerry said, noting that she had to write an essay about her use of technology in the classroom and how she shared her ideas with her peers.
“I had recently involved the students in making iMovie Book Trailers,” she said, “so I included a video of that with my application.”
Jerry said she applied in February and was notified of her selection in April.
“I am so excited to have been selected,” she said.
“There are responsibilities and benefits that go along with the honor,” she said. “I have to encourage my peers to use technology in their classrooms and to share my experiences with them. Teachers need to add more technology to their classrooms so their students can stay a step ahead.
“I also have to lead professional-development days for teachers in my building.”
In addition to teaching third-, fourth- and fifth-grade gifted-and-talented classes, Jerry is responsible for creating enrichment programs for kindergarten through fourth-grade classes.
She is the adviser for the chess, quiz bowl and tech teams at Greenbrier Eastside Elementary School. A shelf in her classroom is filled with trophies for her students’ accomplishments in these areas. Also on that shelf is a trophy she won as the recipient of the Bessie B. Moore Economics Curriculum Award in 2013, which is a state award.
“I am very proud of Mrs. Jerry. She is certainly a pioneer in the field and has been a leader in our building with technology integration,” said Christie Toland, principal at Greenbrier Eastside.
“The best part of being in education is definitely inspiring students to find their passion for learning,” Jerry said. ” I strive to research and utilize strategies that allow students to be enthusiastically engaged daily.
“My goal is to empower my students to go beyond assigned classroom activities in order to take ownership of their own learning.”
Jerry said her favorite AETN PBS LearningMedia resource is the PBS Math Club. She said she likes how the videos are aligned with Common Core Standards and can be used at home or school to make learning entertaining for students.
The 2014 PBS LearningMedia Digital Innovators will receive yearlong professional-development opportunities that include virtual training, access to premium and exclusive resources and invitations to special events.
According to the program’s website, PBS LearningMedia, a partnership of PBS and the WGBH Educational Foundation, is a free, media-on-demand service. It offers educators access to public media by delivering research-based, classroom-ready digital learning experiences to engage students in exploring curriculum concepts that align with national and Common Core state standards. Nationwide, more than 1.4 million teachers have registered access to more than 35,000 digital resources available through PBS LearningMedia. More information about PBS LearningMedia is available at www.pbslearningmedia.org.