Grade 4 teacher Jackie Symons says she knew that at Green Hedges she had come home in terms of matching her own teaching philosophy, because each time she asked about matters of policy, the answer came down to, “whatever is best for the students.” Mrs. Symons particularly enjoys Grade 4 students because, she says, this age group is on an exciting part of the journey toward a clearer sense of identity. “I love to support and witness that development,” she says, remarking that sometimes support means stepping back so students can become more independent.
Mrs. Symons earned a B.S. in French and Psychology and an M.A. in Elementary Education from the University of Pittsburgh. “I started practicing yoga during my Master’s degree training, to keep centered and to keep coming back to what is most important,” she says. As with her other interests, she used this learning both in her personal life and in her teaching, becoming a Registered Yoga Teacher and finding that yoga helps children cope with learning and social challenges. “I teach the mindfulness and breathing techniques from yoga to help students take a ‘brain break,'” she says. A devoted coach of Girls on the Run, Mrs. Symons began working with the program when her former school needed an adult volunteer. Soon, she added running to her own training regimen, and became a marathon runner.
Mrs. Symons has taught Grades 4 and 5 in public school settings and has served as a private and group tutor. She has taught in a French immersion program, having grown up with a Belgian mother and having spent time with her maternal grandmother in France. “I like creating classroom community with a heterogeneous group of students,” she says, concluding, “My goal is to have students leave my class as thoughtful, kind, responsible people who are lifelong learners.”