Growing up with a teacher in her home, Bobbi Jo Kenyon, ’02 had no illusions about the dedication it took to be successful in the education profession. Her father was a teacher for 37 years, so she understood it required commitment, long hours, and hard work to make an impact on students. While the idea of extra work outside the classroom without pay might sway certain young girls from pursuing a career in education, it only made Kenyon want more. It was her early-seeded passion that led her to earn the 2012-2013 Michigan Teacher of the Year award.
Despite recommendations to study medicine or engineering because of her impressive grades in high school, Kenyon knew her gift was in teaching. After graduating from Central Michigan University with a degree in science and secondary education, she couldn’t wait to start her career. After a short stint as a substitute teacher, Kenyon was hired in as a full-time teacher for Grand Rapids Public Schools. After a transfer bumped her from Creston to Ottawa Hills High School, she planted her roots and has been growing her dedication to inner city education.
When she decided to pursue her Master’s degree, Grand Valley State University was the natural choice. The variety of classes allowed her to focus on specific interests that would benefit her and her students. An unexpected perk that she came to appreciate was the brainstorming and networking she could do with fellow teachers.
“I believe the only way to strengthen and improve the teaching profession is by working as a community of teachers who are always looking for ways to reach more students and improve achievement, and Grand Valley promotes this,” she said.
Kenyon not only enjoys the challenges and rewards of teaching, she also works hard to create the very best learning environment for her students. Working with organizations such as the Michigan Fellowship of Instructional Leaders, the Positive Behavior Interventions Support Team, and leading the Ottawa Hills Instructional Leadership Team, Kenyon strives to make the biggest impact possible in the lives of her students.
“We are not ‘just teachers,’ Kenyon stressed. “We are parents, counselors, confidants, role models, and big brothers or sisters to our students. We teach not only our content, but manners, morals, people skills, and life lessons.”
To help her create this positive environment in the classroom, Kenyon uses homemade games, in-class discussion, and hands-on activities.
“Above all else, I want to make learning interesting and fun,” she said. “These activities all help me stimulate learning and engage my students.”
Now that her roots are firmly established, Kenyon’s branches are extending even further. She is currently working on a website and blog with which fellow teachers throughout Michigan can discuss new ideas that will help improve education state and nation-wide. As Michigan Teacher of the Year, Kenyon will sit on the State Board of Education as a non-voting member. She will give a voice to teachers all over the state of Michigan. In the fall, Kenyon will also visit the Whitehouse to meet the President. Follow her progress at www.bobbijokenyon.com.