Ward departs from Haverford after 13 years

June 16, 2015

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Ms. Jennifer Ward has taught a multitude of classes here at Haverford, most recently teaching English 10 Honors and Academic, and Creative Writing classes. Ward leaves Haverford as the school year ends, to return to her home state of Michigan. 

How long have you taught at Haverford?

I started 13 years ago, and I know this because my seniors that just graduated started kindergarten on the first day I started teaching. So they started September 3rd, 2002 and that was my first day teaching here too.

Did you teach anywhere before teaching at Haverford?

Not at the high school level. Before this, I worked at Drexel University in their residence life, and I was the director of residence life at Chatham College, and I worked with international students as an international student advisor.

Since you’ve been here for 13 years, how has Haverford changed in the time that you’ve been here?

It changes a lot! So, when I first started, I was teaching ninth grade in a class called Info Tech, which was literally teaching high school students how to make PowerPoints, and how to use Excel. It was insane. Luckily, that went the way of the dodo, because it was a completely useless class. But actually, the use of technology has changed a lot even within the last two years. The use of Google Docs and Google Drive has changed how so many people are doing things. It’s less about writing the exact same essay that the person sitting next to you is writing. It’s more about kind of voice and figuring out there’s a lot more analytical kind of things that are happening with writing and reading, which is cool.

Has your teaching style changed in the time that you’ve been here?

I’ve said this before, and I have, now, former students – Ms. Barrett is a former student of mine – I feel like I need to apologize to her every time I see her. Her, and Ms. Coletta is a former student of mine, and I need to go back and just say “I’m so sorry.” Because I taught sort of like the way that I was taught, which was very much you read the book outside of class, you do the paper outside of class, and inside of class, it was the work to peer revise. There wasn’t a whole lot of discussion when I was first starting out, so I think the way that it’s changed is, like I said earlier, not everyone writes the same paper, so there’s a lot more voice and choice, and we’re using a lot more technology within the classroom than I did ten years ago, thirteen years ago.

What are some of your favorite memories from your years of teaching here?

I have so many! The number of times that we’ve had Mr. Michael Herskovitz, the Holocaust survivor, that’s a big one. What was it, four years or three years ago, when students first did the staged “What Would You Do?”, and then that got written up and published as a chapter in a book. The very first time that we did the #HavPassion Projects, and [my tenth grade classes] then taking the stage and presenting them this year as TED Talks, rather than doing it as a video, which is what has been done in the past. Oh, and all the Mr. Haverfords!

What are your plans for your upcoming move to Michigan?

Get a job. That’s Plan 1. So we, my family and I, are right now in the process of hopefully finding a job, and I really want to be teaching. I’m looking to move into teaching, my husband’s looking for a job, and then over the summer, when that comes through, it’s the process of finding a place to live and moving in. The reason we’re moving is that both of our families are back there, so we’ll be closer to family.

Do you have a parting statement for Haverford?

I have been fortunate to work with so many creative and passionate students over the course of my thirteen years at Haverford High School, and now some of those former students are current colleagues! Together we have connected with an incredible number of novelists, poets, musicians, publishers, editors, other classrooms, and presenters from all walks of life. Over the years, students have had opportunities to question and learn about writing from a variety of perspectives, from slam poets and Holocaust survivors, YA novelists and literary agents, to children’s book writers and magazine editors. And something that has been threaded through nearly every one of their presentations is the call to find and follow your passion.  Passion is more than an interest or a hobby. Passion is that pursuit for which you are willing to fail, pick yourself up, and try again. The Latin root for passion is found in pati, meaning to suffer. What is it that you are willing to suffer for, to preserve through? Once you find that passion, that thing you love learning more about, don’t let small setbacks deter you. Passion takes resilience.

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