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JCPS teacher whips up new way to connect with students

Published: Feb. 2, 2021 at 6:17 PM EST
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - A JCPS teacher is thinking creatively, whipping up ways to keep her young students motivated to learn.

Carter Elementary physical education teacher Jennifer Zehnder loves to stay active. Because Zehnder doesn’t have access to her school gym, equipment, or the outdoors with her students, she’s found creative ways to engage her students.

”I’ve gone outside the box with yoga,” Zehnder said. “I’ve done rock, paper, scissors, but instead of the old rock, paper, scissors, we used our bodies.”

To mix it up for her kids, she’s taken the classroom to her kitchen.

“I thought, I’m going to do a cooking unit,” Zehnder said. “It has been an absolute blast. We’ve made ants on a log. You would be surprised to find out how many kids don’t know what ants on a log are.”

Her students take a live cooking class with her. Parents get a list of what the kids need ahead of time.

”The parents have loved it, the grandparents have loved it,” Zehnder said. “I have had so much fun seeing fathers with their daughters cooking. I have tried to find all the positive in NTI. I refuse to find the negative.”

It’s been a positive for Anethia Sawyers and her 8-year-old daughter.

“These are life skills that these children need to learn,” Sawyers said. “She’s incorporating math in the ingredients.”

Added her daughter, Khaliyah Murphy: “We get to learn how to cook and spend time with our teachers.”

Carter parent Lisa Partee said it’s not just about the cooking.

“(My daughter) is really trying to find how they can continue to learn,” she said.

”I think this pandemic and NTI has brought us back down to reality,” Zehnder said. “We are eating together, spending more time as a family. We are finding simplicity.”

Zehnder said it’s not mandatory for the students to cook. When school does return to in-person learning, she said she hopes to incorporate the same type of learning.

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