At Meredith College, Jennifer Miske, ’16 M.Ed., found role models among Meredith’s faculty as well as her passion for working with academically and intellectually gifted (AIG) students.
Jennifer completed her undergraduate degree at Lafayette College in Pennsylvania in 1994, double majoring in English and history. Family circumstances brought her to North Carolina, where she earned her high school English teaching license in 2007 through Meredith’s licensure-only program.
At Meredith, learning about areas of specialization and different licenses within a master’s education helped Jennifer identify areas of personal interest. After becoming interested in AIG education, Jennifer went on to develop a program at her own school. “I wouldn’t have had any of the experiences I’ve had in the last four years if I hadn’t decided to come to Meredith. I didn’t know I would become so passionate or knowledgeable about a particular branch of education that is so important.”
Jennifer’s master’s research focused on supporting and retaining African American students.
“I got to research something where there wasn’t a lot of knowledge. It took me out of my comfort zone and showed me where research is lacking.” Jennifer plans to continue this research in the future.
She currently works as the AIG specialist at Rogers-Herr Year-Round Middle School in Durham. She felt empowered by her Meredith experience, saying that it is one of the best schools for education in North Carolina. Among other responsibilities, Jennifer teaches English One to eighth graders as well as co-teaching in a sixth-grade class. She also completes quarterly programs for Rogers-Herr and works to identify potential AIG students within the school.
Describing her passion for AIG education, Jennifer said, “We need to be supporting and nurturing gifted students. They have their own unique needs that they should have met and are often overlooked because people assume they will be successful, that they are self-driven. Meredith has shifted my perspective on education.”
Jennifer was encouraged by one of her professors to return to Meredith to earn her Curriculum Instruction Specialist (CIS) add-on licensure in 2017. She describes the CIS education as leadership centric, and revolving around evaluating and improving the structure of education. “It involved creating new plans and proposals and taking risks,” said Jennifer. She has been able to utilize these skills in developing AIG programming at her school.
Balancing work, life, and education was the biggest challenge she faced during her time at Meredith. “It’s a challenge to balance being a single mother with two boys, finishing up my master’s and doing well in my profession.”
Despite these challenges, Jennifer found benefits in having practical experience before getting her M.Ed. “You’re never too old to go back. In fact, it was to my advantage to get my master’s so many years into my career because you really come back with an understanding of teaching. My experience allowed for a deeper understanding of education classes and really understanding students.”
As an adult student, Jennifer felt that the professors were sympathetic to her unique challenges and recognized the effort she and other students were putting into their course work. She also appreciates the fact that Meredith faculty keep in contact with students after graduation, inviting them back to talk or informing them of job opportunities.
“I was amazed at the professors who were here. They were what I wanted to be as a teacher. They know your strengths and individualize their attention and look out for you past leaving campus. That’s very valuable.”
When discussing her plans for the future, Jennifer said, “When my son goes to college, I plan to get my Ph.D. My Meredith professors have encouraged me to pursue this goal and are very supportive of the idea. I’d like to be a teacher of teachers.”
By Alex Rouch, ’20