By Ed Pierce
Jennifer Beaulieu believes that if education is the foundation for a student’s future, then STEM education is what is needed for them to be successful in the future.
|Jennifer Beaulieu is the STEM/Industrial Tech|
teacher at Jordan-Small Middle School in
Raymond and instructs fifth through eighth-grade
students in technology such as computer skills, coding,
3D design and printing and wood shop.
Along with those duties, Beaulieu also oversees the Jordan-Small Lego Club and is advising a group of students about fundraising to purchase a laser engraver for the school.
“I am able to teach hands-on real-life skills that demonstrate why the other subjects they are learning are important,” Beaulieu said. “For example, learning fractions is not always easy for students to understand, but when they can use those skills and see why they need them, it makes it easier for them to remember for the long term.”
She started teaching at Jordan-Small in January 2023 as a long-term substitute teacher for health classes and liked it there, so she applied for an opening in a position that allows her to teach subjects she enjoys and was hired full-time.
“In a world where the internet gives people instantaneous answers to any question, students are learning to persevere and learn through productive struggle,” she said. “It’s easier to just give them the answer, but it is more memorable if they figure it out themselves.”
Born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, Beaulieu joined the U.S. Coast Guard when she finished high school. When her enlistment was up, she was living in Wisconsin and went to college to be a Certified Medical Assistant. She worked in cardiology for a while and then earned a bachelor's degree in business and health care management.
“I was also teaching martial arts at my family’s karate studio in Chicago during this time,” she said. “I realized that teaching was more of a passion for me than health care, so I went back to college again. In 2008, I earned my master’s degree from Northeastern Illinois University, and was finally able to pursue teaching as a career. In 2017, I went to University of Wisconsin-Whitewater for certification as an ESL teacher.”
Her first teaching position was at an Expeditionary Learning High School in Kenosha Wisconsin. There she served as a special education teacher and co-taught biology, algebra, and geometry. She transferred to Washington Middle School for three years until 2017 when she became an ESL teacher at ITA High School and Academy. In July 2020, Beaulieu and her husband moved to Maine to start a nature trail and she got a teaching job at Lake Region Middle School.
“I was planning to take a year off of teaching because my husband and I are starting a nature education trail in Sumner and I wanted to take the time to get it up and running,” Beaulieu said. “Michelle Brann was the assistant principal when I taught at Lake Region Middle School, and she talked about how great Jordan-Small Middle School is and asked me to be the long-term substitute for health. I’m so glad that she did, because now I have my dream job in a wonderful school with amazing people.”
She’s also breaking the traditional image in her teaching duties in Raymond.
“When most think of a shop teacher, I don’t think I fit the traditional image, both physically and through my teaching methods,” Beaulieu said. “When I was in school, the shop teacher was a big gruff man that just let you go into the shop and use the machines with little pre-teaching except to tell you not to lose a finger. I teach safety as well as technique and set-up of each tool, so they can take these skills beyond shop class and hopefully beyond just one project. Similar to the Performance Qualification Standards (PQS) we had in the Coast Guard, the students need to have their book signed-off by me in order to use the tools, even the hand saws and hammer.”
As a teacher, Beaulieu says she’s learned one important thing.
“A school will only run well if the team is cooperative and working with the students’ future as the priority,” she said. “If decisions are made with the student’s best interest in mind, then you are moving toward the right path.” <