Jennifer Linn named KCS Teacher of the Year

Jennifer Linn named KCS Teacher of the Year
Posted on 04/27/2017
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Jennifer Linn paints pictures with words the way an artist makes masterpieces using a brush and canvas. In her English class at A.L. Brown High School, students find themselves immersed in a world where words are celebrated and literature comes to life. Linn brings learning alive for her students by using her background in the theater. “My classroom is the best stage,” Linn says, “and teacher is the best role I have ever played.”


Jennifer Linn came to teaching twenty-one years ago after earning a degree in Theatre Arts and being licensed to teach at the secondary level. From the moment she stepped into the classroom, she began inspiring her students and giving them a better understanding not only of the world around them but also of themselves. “Reading and analyzing literature can help students see that they are not alone,” Linn says. “Students find out that those they imagine to be different from themselves are really not so different at the heart of the matter.” She says it is about more than just what happened in the play, or the book, or the story, or the poem. “It is about how it relates to our own feelings, experiences, and understanding of one another as we muddle through this life together.”


One of Linn’s students, Shemya Stanback, believes Linn’s impact on students has been amazing. “Ms. Linn is one of the best teachers I have ever had throughout my four years at A.L. Brown. By the end of the semester, you will have learned something not only about the literature she’s teaching but also something about character and the real world. She’s as good as it gets.”


Each semester, Linn asks her students to partner, one classmate at a time, with every other student in the classroom. She wants her students to have conversations with each other to find out how they are different and how they are similar. She also wants them to move beyond assumptions and judgments that might be based on very little information. “I see my responsibility as having one last chance to have a positive influence on my students,” Linn says. “I hope they leave my classroom better readers, better thinkers, and better versions of themselves.”


A.L. Brown’s principal, Dr. Todd Parker, has high praise for Linn, “The true measure of a teacher’s worth is in the hearts and minds of their children,” says Parker. “Ms. Linn epitomizes the best and most noble qualities of the teaching profession. She has open ears and a warm heart for kids, and she works tirelessly to meet the needs of every student. She is truly a remarkable person as well as an excellent teacher.”


Besides being an outstanding classroom teacher, Jennifer Linn is dedicated to the importance of public education. Her words paint a vivid picture of public education’s value, and they are an eloquent challenge to those who believe that public education is broken. “A mosaic is artwork painstakingly put together of broken pieces of tile or glass,” Linn says. We humans are fragile. Sometimes students come to us from broken homes, with broken finances, often feeling broken by circumstances not of their own creation and beyond their control. Sometimes teachers come to their classrooms feeling broken by financial challenges, lack of trust, and the pressure of getting students to achieve.” However, like the artist with the mosaic, “We in public schools take the broken pieces, and we work hard to put them together to make something beautiful.”


“Jennifer Linn represents the very best of what public education offers students and the community,” says KCS Superintendent, Dr. Chip Buckwell. “She’s talented, dedicated, and truly makes a positive difference for our kids. She’s the kind of teacher we all want for our children. Jennifer Linn is extremely deserving of this honor, and I am very proud that she’s part of Kannapolis City Schools.”


Jennifer Linn graduated Summa Cum Laude from St. Edwards University in Austin, TX and earned her teaching license for secondary education. This is her 22nd year of teaching, and she has spent her entire career in Kannapolis City Schools and at A.L. Brown High School. She will now be considered for regional Teacher of the Year honors.


As a result of being named Kannapolis City Schools’ Teacher of the Year, Linn received $1,000 from First Financial Group of America, which sponsors the KCS Teacher of the Year program. LAUREN ROBERTS of Shady Brook Elementary was named the system's runner-up Teacher of the Year. She received $500 from First Financial Group of America. The remaining nominees received $100 from First Financial:

  • Colleen Barrese, Jackson Park Elementary
  • Lauren Downs, Woodrow Wilson Elementary School
  • Jim Newell, Kannapolis Middle School  
  • Jody Shaughnessy, Fred L. Wilson Elementary School
  • Jeremy Thiel, Kannapolis Intermediate School
  • Allison Vincent, Forest Park Elementary School 


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