Year started at Blair: 2004
Education: B.A. in environmental studies from Warren Wilson College, M.E.D from George Washington University
Previous Jobs: Peace Corps volunteer in Senegal
Hobbies: Ultimate Frisbee, camping, hiking, biking, rock climbing, gardening
Staring down at her manicured hands, Biology and ESOL environmental science teacher Jenny Tanner reflects on a time when those same hands felt as if they were on fire after she ripped seeds out of poisonous peppers for a day.
It was only one of the many experiences Tanner had while working in the Peace Corps at Senegal in western Africa. After receiving her graduate degree from George Washington University, Tanner went into the Peace Corps because she wanted adventure and travel. There she worked in a variety of alternative wilderness-based educational programs that implemented environmental education and training to Senegal locals.
Tanner interacted extensively with the Senegal children by going on wilderness hikes and teaching in schools, where she learned how to speak the native language, Pular.
Although she loved working outside, most of the programs were residential, requiring that she live with her students. Wanting "a life away from my job," Tanner subsequently moved back to the United States and started looking into public education.
Coming from a family of educators, Tanner always knew she would end up teaching. With a majority of her students coming from a variety of backgrounds, Tanner's favorite part about working at Blair is the "diversity of backgrounds and life experiences. I love the ESOL students and the world view that they bring into this culture." She goes onto explain, "I have always thought that high school aged students are great because of how passionate they can get about the things that turn them on in life." It's this passion that Tanner sees when she coaches.
As head coach of the girls' junior varsity soccer team at Blair, Tanner loves being able to interact with students outside the classroom. "It is nice to be part of the excitement, dedication and discipline that the girls use to drive themselves on the soccer field," she said.
Growing up in South Carolina, Tanner and her friends had to play soccer on boys' teams until they reached high school, where they initiated their school district's first girls' soccer league. A rigorous athlete, Tanner also ran cross country and played basketball throughout high school. Her youthful love of sports and the outdoors evolved into her new favorite hobbies including camping, hiking, biking, rock climbing, and gardening. However, her new favorite sport is Ultimate Frisbee. "I can't stop playing it! I'm so sad I didn't discover it sooner!" she exclaims.
In her free time, Tanner also works with the Student Conservation Association, leading teams that maintain national parks and help build new local trails. She is also involved in the Global Exploration for Educators Organization, a non-profit program devoted to helping teachers travel to developing countries.
As a child Tanner could not decide whether she wanted to be a teacher or a world explorer, and she still hasn't chosen. However, as she finishes her third year at Blair, she has come to realize that "although teaching isn't quite as adventurous as planting and maintaining a pepper garden in a third world country, it is still an irreplaceable learning experience that I love."
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