KIPP Lynn teacher at head of the class

ByJacqlyn Culwell

Jennifer Stocklin, an 11th- and 12th-grade English teacher at KIPP Academy, has always loved knowledge, learning and being a student.

As an adult, she has continued to learn not only as a student but as a teacher. It came as a shock to Stocklin, but her efforts were rewarded at a ceremony in Anaheim, Calif., last week when she was one of 12 recipients nationwide of the Harriett Ball Excellence in Teaching Award, along with a $10,000 prize.

She says she’s both humbled and honored.

“The award was a complete surprise,” she said. “I didn’t know my school leader had nominated me. I thought I was just there for professional development and, of course, I learned a lot, but it was crazy to realize what was happening and that I had won something so huge.

“I cried mostly,” she said, when talking about her reaction to the award. “On the screen they had some of my students talking about me, and I was shocked.”

With just three years at KIPP under her belt, she began teaching AP English language and said that it isn’t easy but probably one of the most enjoyable subjects she’s taught. The students are receptive and ready to learn, and it brings joy to Stocklin as she continues to strive to bring value to education, she said.

“To me, this award is an encouragement to me and to all teachers,” she said. “It shows that we’re continuing to teach and recognize teacher work. It was amazing that I got to connect with some of the other teachers backstage, it wasn’t just me.”

Having been lucky enough to be recognized by The New Teacher Project earlier this year as finalist in the Top 10 for the Fishman award (named after Washington, D.C., teacher Shira Fishman for exceptionally effective teachers working in high-poverty public schools), Stocklin feels gratitude to those who have paid attention to the work that she and all other teachers are doing. Giving every student, no matter how fortunate they are, a chance to receive an equal learning experience is something Stocklin said she is passionate about.

“It’s a humbling experience to teach,” she said. “Different students think in different ways, and just like they’re learning, I’m learning about them too. I’m incredibly passionate about giving students a diverse area of teaching.”

As for why she loves teaching — English in particular — it’s the attention to great authors and texts. Stocklin loves being with high school students and teaching them about novels that hold a lot of meaning.

“This money, which I’m so humbled to have won, is going straight to student loans,” Stocklin said with a laugh. “I know that sounds boring but I’m certainly appreciative of everyone who helped get me here.

“I want to continue to increase my students’ work exposure in the world, continue increasing AP scores, and, as a department chair, I really want to help build the writing program.”