Archive for Thursday, November 16, 2006

Teachers remember long-time colleague

November 16, 2006

When Dick Powers started his career as a second-grade teacher at Nottingham Elementary School, it didn't take long for him to find a mentor. He found guidance in the form of a loud-laughing teacher named Jennifer Adams.

"She was the first one that I felt really reached out and helped me a whole lot," Powers said.

Adams, also known as Jennifer Krug during her career in the district, last taught in 2003. But, she hasn't been forgotten.

"She's just one of those people. You just knew her immediately," consolidated plan director Janell Barnow said.

District officials and teachers learned Monday Adams had lost her battle with cancer while visiting in Arizona. She had gone to spend time with family for the upcoming holidays and fell ill Sunday. She died Monday morning.

Funeral arrangements are pending at Warren-McElwain Mortuary in Lawrence.

While the district provided counseling to her former students and fellow faculty, those close to her took the time to remember Adams.

For 14 years, Adams taught as a second-grade teacher at Nottingham Elementary School. Her final year she served as a computer instructor at Nottingham and spent time teaching reading and social studies at Eudora Middle School.

Adams maintained a teaching style in all her varied jobs in the district, which her colleague Barbie Hartwell summed up with a phrase.

"She was just a tenacious teacher," Hartwell said.

Barnow remembered how Adams would go to great lengths to help her students learn.

"Jennifer was a real proponent of learning styles, and she just discovered every child's learning style and if they needed to move to learn that's what she did," Barnow said.

In particular, Barnow remembers Adams working with a student who couldn't read.

After working with him, Adams discovered he had a love for science. She would ask him what he wanted to learn about, then check out higher-level books and record them onto tapes for him.

The student eventually learned how to read and found success with science, Barnow said.

"That was very typical of Jennifer. She just got to the core of what he needed and went from there," Barnow said.

Her classroom presence was anything but static, Hartwell said.

"She was also a very hands-on teacher. You rarely found her sitting at her desk. She was up in her room," Hartwell said.

"She was the type of person where she was bigger than the room," Powers said.

Her personality outside the classroom often reflected her personality inside, Barnow said.

"There is no deviation," she said.

She took gusto in collaborating with other teachers, Powers said.

"She was very creative. She was just a fountain," Powers said. "You could ask for an idea, and it would just start coming out."

Powers said he used to joke with Adams at faculty meetings by sitting next to her and telling her he'd nudge her if she started getting carried away.

Hartwell also fondly remembered Adams' sense of humor.

"You knew when she was in a room because her laugh was just so contagious," Hartwell said.

As a person away from the classroom, Adams kept varied interests.

"She loved art, she loved to read, she watched movies," Barnow said. "She devoted her life to her kids and grandkids."

Barnow said Adams was part of the district family.

With her death, Powers will work to make sure she's not forgotten. He spent time drafting a letter to describe her to the teachers who never knew her.

"I feel terrible for the new teachers," Powers said. "I guess that's just why I try and keep on and try to be as much like Jennifer as I can in a lot of ways."

Hartwell will also continue to emulate Adams.

"She was strong regardless of what was going on in her life," Hartwell said. "She mustered enough energy to have strength for everyone. She had some hard times. She's someone the rest of us can model after because of how strongly she handled those circumstances."

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