OPS TLA | Profiles
OPS TLA Primarily Math
Third Grade Teacher
Benson West Elementary School
When Jennifer Kaminski’s students tell her that they love math, it is music to her ears.
“When I tell the students that it is time to clean up their manipulatives and put their materials away, I love it when they tell me that they don’t want math to end,” said the third-grade teacher.
Primarily Math has renewed her own love of math, “igniting a fire” inside her to become the best math teacher she can be.
“I believe in creating a strong student and teacher relationship based on respect,” said Kaminski, who has been teaching at Benson West since 2010. “For true understanding, students must be able to explain their reasoning, justify their answers, and take in the thoughts of their classmates and decide if they agree or disagree. With each lesson, I am creating problem-solvers that will one day be responsible citizens of society.”
Kaminski also believes OPS TLA has created a family of teachers.
“I have gained a network of teachers who I can contact to share ideas with and gain new thoughts and strategies. We have a shared experience,” the Maryland native said. “In a way, the cohort you are in becomes your family. As you go through the classes, you rely on one another. Maybe I was able to grasp a concept but the person to my right was struggling. I automatically jumped in to help. The same then goes for when I was struggling, the person to my left or right would jump in to help.”
After joining the Air Force in 2000, Kaminski spent six years serving the country as a weather forecaster/observer. She was first stationed in Spagdahlem, Germany, and then was assigned to Offutt Air Force Base in Bellevue, Nebraska, working with satellite imagery. She began pursuing a business administration degree from the University of Nebraska at Omaha, but quickly found she had no interest in business courses.
“I woke up in the middle of the night and said, ‘I want to be a teacher.’ I decided not to renew my contract with the Air Force and focus all my energy on becoming a teacher.”
Kaminski earned her degree in Elementary Education and Deaf Education. She started out as a long-term sub with the Hearing Resource traveling teacher team at the Teacher Administrative Center but soon discovered she longed to have her own classroom.
To earn her master’s degree at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Kaminski took full advantage of the Sherwood-Lozier fellowships.
“I want to create the most change possible,” Kaminski said. “I have witnessed the impact that Primarily Math is having on students’ understanding. If I can teach the skills I have learned to other teachers, I will be impacting not only my own classroom but also other classrooms in my building as well. I am looking forward to learning ways to develop myself as a leader through Primarily Math.”