Lovers of language, tactile learning receive designation from JMT colleagues

The two educators share about 30 years of teaching experience between one another and now honorable distinctions at J. Mason Tomlin Elementary School.

While Jennifer Andrade is retiring from the district, she looks forward to introducing early literacy to students in Mexico. (Krystal Nurse/The Sun).

Editors Note: This is the final story in a series profiling employees in the Mantua Township School District who were given the Teacher or Educational Services Professional of the Year distinctions.

Educators Jennifer Andrade and Kathy Cartwright were honored as J. Mason Tomlin Elementary School’s educational service professional and teacher of the year, respectively.

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Andrade, who’s retiring at the end of the year, is a basic skills instructor in English and is a Just Words teacher – an instructional lesson where kids learn about how to sound out, spell and read new words. Prior to being a basic skills instructor, Andrade taught Spanish for 14 years at JMT.

“I loved teaching Spanish for 14 years here, and I had no problem going from Spanish to English because, before, I spent 14 years teaching deaf and hard-of-hearing students,” said Andrade. “So that was my primary job. I taught them other things, but their biggest weakness was the English language.”

From time to time, Andrade said she would travel to a Mexican village to perfect her Spanish skills and to teach kids in the country. Following retirement, she wants to assist in introducing early literacy to students in La Palmilla, Mexico.

“I want to work with the little ones and get them interested in reading before they get to school. It’s one of my goals,” she said. “When I’m around here, I’m hoping to do some private tutoring.”

Andrade added she adores the camaraderie between her coworkers and how supportive they are of one another. As for the students, she enjoys the moments when she’s able to get a student excited to read.

“I like the challenge of finding ways to make it more interesting to help them find success,” she said.

Kathy Cartwirght said she loves getting her students physically involved in lessons to help them learn better. (Krystal Nurse/The Sun).

Cartwright, who’s been a fifth-grade teacher for the past 12 years, said she likes getting students physically involved in lessons to help them learn better.

“When we do science, we did Ziploc bags with different types of foods and plates, put them in different conditions and related it back to how food has preservatives or not, and conditions you keep your food in,” said Cartwright.

Cartwright also teaches in an inclusion classroom that has students of all abilities. Prior to teaching fifth grade, she taught special education for 18 years because she “wanted to help those that were facing challenges.”

She molds her previous experience in special education to her position now by utilizing a multi-sensory approach to teaching and providing one-on-one lessons to those who may need it more than others.

On Fridays, she helps the students wind down and prepare for the weekend with “Friday Frenzies,” which have various math activities and games for the students.

Andrade and Cartwright both said they’ve felt humbled by receiving the honor and how it makes them feel good knowing their colleagues and the administration recognize their dedication to the students.

“I can close my door and teach those kids,” said Cartwright. “I tell them that we’re a seven-hour family and we spend seven hours in a room together and we have to make it work.”

“The students are great here,” said Andrade. “We may have some challenging students here, but I think, all-in-all, it’s been a great place to work.”

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