By Claudia Zequeira
Jennifer Lawhon, professor, mathematics, knows the subject she teaches is not synonymous with fun for many of her students. But that’s not a deterrent to her job. Rather, it’s an inspiration.
“There is a quote by Henry Adams that is a great reminder of why I do what I do — ‘A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops,’” said Jennifer.
“There are teachers and professors that I have had over many years, including elementary school, that I will never forget. They inspired me to do better. They taught with enthusiasm and helped me see learning can be fun. I want to do the same for my students.”
By way of anecdote, Jennifer recalled how a student she had taught long ago hugged her after running into her at a store years later.
“She told me she never enjoyed math until she had my class,” said Jennifer. “She then decided to take more math classes and told me she loves math now. Even if I only inspire one student, that is enough.”
In her day-to-day, Jennifer teaches several levels of mathematics to students at the East Campus, including Developmental Mathematics, Math for the Liberal Arts and College Algebra. In addition, she has served as coordinator as the Liberal Arts Pathway for her department since 2014, where she helps provide professional development for her colleagues, among other tasks.
Her supervisor, Keri Siler, dean, mathematics, praised Jennifer for her teaching skills as well as her supervisory abilities.
“I have had the pleasure of working with Jen for many years now, both as a colleague and supervisor,” said Kari.
“She is a consummate professional. Jen serves as a department leader in a multitude of ways, such as the Liberal Arts Pathway coordinator, designing and leading professional development to enhance the knowledge and skills of her colleagues, and serving as a mentor in our online endeavors. I could not be more impressed with Jen and her passion for both teaching and leadership.”
At Valencia, Jennifer is most proud of working toward and completing her doctorate degree in education, with a concentration in curriculum and instruction and e-learning.
The program helped her develop, along with colleague Amanda Saxman, professor mathematics, a training course for instructors teaching or planning to teach mixed-mode courses. These combine both face-to-face and online learning.
She has also participated in numerous committees, including various math textbook committees, which assist in the selection of textbooks for several mathematics courses. Jennifer also served in the Faculty Senate for several years.
Prior to joining Valencia, Jennifer, who holds a Bachelor of Science in mathematics from the State University of New York at Fredonia as well as a Master of Science in statistical computing from the University of Central Florida (UCF), worked as a consultant for UCF.
While at UCF, she performed statistical analysis on a project for the education department. She also worked on a project with the engineering department performing statistical analysis using Excel and SPSS (a software package used for interactive, or batched, statistical analysis). In addition, she taught algebra and statistics to students at Seminole State College and was a mathematics teacher at Dr. Phillips High School.
Jennifer, who has been at Valencia since 2001, said she has remained at the College because of the many opportunities to be involved and its professional development opportunities. But most of all, she has remained because of Valencia’s collaborative environment and because of the people who make that environment possible.
“I love all of the collaboration that occurs at the College. I also enjoy working with Valencia students. I find working at Valencia to be a rewarding job.”
She also appreciates what Valencia means to the community — specifically, diversity and affordability.
“Valencia has such a diverse population of students and the College has a tuition that is affordable to many families,” said Jennifer. “Valencia offers opportunity for an education. An excellent education.”
In her free time, Jennifer enjoys singing and playing the piano (in her 20s, she was the lead singer in alternative rock band. The band wrote its own music and even recorded a CD).
She also enjoys working out and spending time with her children.
“With four kids I don’t always have as much time for music, but I enjoy it when I do get the chance!,” she said.
Know of someone doing great work at the College, who has been an employee for one year or more? Send the colleague’s name to us at The_Grove@valenciacollege.edu. He or she might be one of our featured colleagues, subject to supervisor’s approval.