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West Orange Times & Observer Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020 1 month ago

Influencer of the Week: Kemonni Jackson, Innovation Montessori Ocoee

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Jackson is an upper-elementary school teacher who works with grades four through six.
by: Danielle Hendrix Associate Editor

As an upper-elementary teacher at Innovation Montessori Ocoee, Kemonni Jackson knows he is exactly where he is meant to be. Jackson is passionate about his role in helping shape the lives and minds of future generations. He finds joy in building relationships with his students from their fourth- to sixth-grade years and watching them grow along the way. 

 

What brought you to your school?

I joined Innovation Montessori Ocoee in spring of 2014 with the after-school program. I was halfway through my bachelor’s degree in elementary education at UCF, and I had never heard of Montessori schools before then. I saw unique classroom materials, meticulously prepared learning environments and holistic teaching methods. When I met the staff and students, I knew it would be the perfect home for me as a teacher.

What do you love most about your school?

I have always loved the sense of community and high value of kindness, grace and courtesy. When I first came to the school, we operated in a tiny strip mall in Winter Garden with (fewer) than 300 students. This allowed me the pleasure of knowing pretty much all the staff, students and family. It felt like a family. This is what drew me in. 

What is your motivation?

I have always loved helping and empowering people. I feel energized by witnessing others, especially children, reach their full potential.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

My students come to me as fourth-graders and leave for seventh grade three years later, so you can imagine we build relationships over time. Of course, it is wonderful helping my students love learning, but the most rewarding part of my job is seeing them grow as people. I love witnessing a fourth-grader experience triumph when she finally solves that least-common-multiple problem that pushed her to her limit, or the joy in a fifth-grader’s eyes when the entire class recognizes him for his care, effort and sense of enjoyment. 

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I’m a bit more on the introverted side, so I enjoy lots of solitude. I might get lost in a good book or binge watch a Netflix series. I also like to spend time with my family and friends. This year has really taught me to cherish the people I love.  

Who was your favorite teacher when you were in school? Why?

My favorite teacher is Rosemary Davis. I took her early childhood education course at Ocoee High School in my sophomore year, purely out of curiosity. I had no idea she would inspire me to become a teacher myself. She always modeled hard work and integrity. The love, wisdom and empowerment she poured into her students is what I try to recreate for my own students. 

When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? Why?

As a child, I fantasized about a few careers. I went from dreaming of being a police officer, to an actor, to a social worker, to a psychologist. I knew without a doubt I wanted to help people. 

What are your hobbies?

I enjoy painting, cooking new recipes, and I’ve recently taken up yoga.

Danielle Hendrix is the Associate Editor for the West Orange Times & Observer and the Windermere Observer. She is a 2015 graduate of the University of Central Florida, from which she earned a bachelor's degree in journalism with a minor in world comparative studies. ...

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