February 2, 2024

In the public eye: Manchester School teacher helps gifted students reach potential

Editor’s note: This is another in an ongoing series of Windham and Raymond town employee profiles.

By Ed Pierce

Jennifer Breton believes that gifted students should concentrate on learning and not worry about social adjustment and peer judgement so they will develop positive feelings about themselves and better self-esteem to maximize their abilities and reach their potential.

Jennifer Breton is the Fourth and Fifth grade
REACH teacher for gifted and talented students
at Manchester School in Windham, instructing
them in English and Language Arts and math for
both grades. She has taught at Manchester School 
since August 2005. SUBMITTED PHOTO
As the Fourth and Fifth Grade REACH teacher for gifted and talented students at Manchester School in Windham, Breton instructs formally identified gifted learners in English and Language Arts and Math for both grades. The REACH program at Manchester School is a daily pull-out program so students receive instruction from Breton in place of their regular classroom instruction in those two subject areas. She also teaches a fourth-grade math enrichment class.

Breton has taught at Manchester School since August 2005 and says the best part of her job is the relationships that she forms with her students and their families.

“Every day I am inspired and in awe of not only their academic abilities, but their genuine curiosity, huge hearts, and remarkable sense of humor,” Breton said. “I have these students for two years, so we develop a close bond filled with mutual respect. Their excitement, willingness to try new things, and creativity are heartwarming and motivate me daily. I love hearing from them as they go through school. My heart is happiest when they are reaching their potential and shining their bright lights. My joy comes from delivering the letters they write in fifth grade to their future selves when they are about to graduate seven years later. It’s a privilege to see them grow in their journey knowing we had two years together as part of that. I also work with amazing teachers who are flexible and accommodating.”

According to Breton, the most challenging aspect of her work is that there never seems to be enough time in the day to do all that she needs to do.

“I’ve had to make a concerted effort to truly focus on prioritizing what’s most important while keeping the assignments and projects challenging and meaningful,” she said. “The workday does not end when the bell rings. The work and home life balance can be precarious sometimes as we teachers are always thinking about our sweet students and how we can provide the best education to meet all their needs.”

Prior to joining the staff at Manchester School, Breton taught second and third grades at Great Salt Bay Community School in Damariscotta during her first two years of teaching. She then taught fourth grade for eight years at Village School in Gorham before accepting the job in Windham.

She grew up in South Portland and lived in Westbrook before eventually moving to Windham. Breton obtained her elementary education teaching degree from the University of Southern Maine and later earned certification to teach gifted and talented students.

“I was a classroom teacher for 10 years before I worked at Manchester School. Both schools I had previously taught at had no daily gifted and talented programming but weekly enrichment services,” Breton said. “I was determined to challenge and motivate these learners in my classroom as I saw they had great potential and deserved comprehensive and appropriate differentiation in their education. I jumped at the chance to teach these learners every day in a pull-out program that only Manchester School offers. It’s been an amazing experience and I have such gratitude for the honor of teaching these inspiring children.”

Married and the mother of a daughter and a son, Breton says her family are supportive of her work and give her insight to balance her workload more effectively. She also had the unique opportunity to have her son as a student for two years at Manchester School.

“It’s been wonderful to hear his perspective and what stood out most to him all of those years ago,” she said.

Breton says that the educational partnership and collaboration between the Manchester students, their families, and the community have helped the school grow in a multitude of ways.

“The parents of my students are incredibly supportive along with this team of teachers who are inspiring and encouraging,” she said. “I am a community member as well as a teacher here in Windham and those two perspectives have given me a deeper level of gratitude for our school and community. I am thankful every day for these incredible students and the opportunities. I adore every one of these amazing kids.” <

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