TOP PHOTO: Campbell County Director of Schools Jennifer Fields rounds out WLAF’s first year of featuring local educators in this 52nd edition.
By Charlotte Underwood
JACKSBORO, TN (WLAF) – There are so many wonderful educators in Campbell County that make a difference in the lives of the 5,000 kids that attend school here.
That’s why a year ago, WLAF began its teacher of the week feature to honor area teachers and educators that help the youth of our county live up to their full potential.
We have showcased 51 amazing educators and plan to continue that tradition with this week’s Educator of the week, Director of Schools Jennifer Fields. She has served as the school director since Jan. 22 of 2018 and has 29 years in education.
Fields comes from a family of educators and grew up knowing she wanted to be a teacher.
She was born in the Stinking Creek area and attended Wynn for K-12th grade. Her inspiration for following a career in education came from her mother Sherry Ayers who taught school for 30 years, her grandmother Jeanette Wilson who taught school for 42 years and her aunt Donna Housley who taught for 30 years. All three retired from the Campbell County School system.
“There was never a time we were not talking about education, helping students or doing what we could to improve the school system,” Fields said. She has two sisters, Ashley Foust and Amanda Robbins who also both teach in the school system. Teaching just came naturally to all of them.
Director Fields said she always knew she would be a teacher.
“At our house, we had a room with a chalkboard and desk set up like a classroom; we always played school growing up,” Fields said.
After high school, Fields attended Lincoln Memorial University, earning her Bachelor’s of Science degree. She received her Master’s degree from the University of Tennessee, as well as her EDS in administration and supervision.
She taught at Jacksboro Elementary and was in the classroom for 18 years. Fields served as assistant principal at Jacksboro Elementary for two years.
After spending 20 years at Jacksboro Elementary, Fields said she wanted to broaden her knowledge of the school system by working with older students, so she spent two years as assistant principal at Campbell County High School. She was then offered the head principal position at Jacksboro Middle School where she worked for three years, after which she was voted director of schools. She is the second female in the county to hold the position. Judy Blevins was the first.
“It has been such an honor to get voted for this position,” Fields said. There’s a bitter sweetness to it in that her mother passed away right before Fields took the position.
“My mother was my greatest inspiration in every aspect of my life,” Fields said.
He favorite part of her job when she was a teacher was the interaction with her students, which is something she misses. The most difficult part of her job as director is the lack of that student interaction. Her favorite part of her job as a director is finding opportunities to improve the school system and helping with the education of the county’s youth.
“Every decision we make is based on what is going to be best for our students.”
She said after growing up and being educated in the northern part of the school district and spending 29 years in education in the southern part of Campbell County, she feels she has a “well rounded knowledge of the needs that make up the districts in the school system.”
‘I am a teacher at heart and respect the profession of teaching. I love our students and I know how hard our school staff work.”
Director Fields said that while the past year was challenging, staff and students came together to make it a rewarding and successful year.
She said everyone was excited for this new school year as well and the open house events held in August had record attendance.
“Students and staff alike were excited to see each other when school reopened this year. The challenges of the past year brought people closer together because you truly hoped for the well-being of everyone you knew and worked with; it made you not take people for granted,” Fields said.
She said the students are the county’s greatest resource and they deserve the best education that a school system can provide.
“Providing them with the best education is our goal; they are the driving force behind every decision we make,” Fields said.
Fields said she had “endless gratitude” to the community for their support, flexibility and adaptability during one of the most difficult times in history.”
She also had a special message for school staff, including teachers, teaching assistants, bus drivers, SROs, cafeteria staff, and custodians.
“They are the boots on the ground, who not only serve our students, but go above and beyond to meet their needs, whether it’s social, emotional or educational. They do it with a willingness that shows how much they truly care. I am so honored to be in a position working with people who only want to serve others. It is an honor for me to come to work every day.”
Publisher’s note: If you have a teacher you would like to see featured, send nominations to email@example.com with the name of the educator and contact information. (WLAF NEWS PUBLISHED – 09/02/2021-6AM)