Pell’s drive helps students thrive

Jake Lunsford, Staff Reporter

After getting her bachelor’s degree in criminology, English resource teacher Jennifer Pell decided to switch her focus to special education. Pell has been a teacher at Fauquier for two years and has earned the reputation of a hard working teacher who is fully devoted to her students.
“I always knew I wanted to help people,” Pell said. “I like helping people reach their potential, so I figured what better way to do that than to become a teacher?”
Pell teaches ninth, 10th, and 12th grade English and a class called Self Determination.
“She’s a no-nonsense and no-foolishness teacher,” said Becky Resseman, Pell’s assistant. “The first couple days of a new class, the kids don’t know how to roll with her. But once they see what she’s made of and what she’s trying to do, they’ll fall right in. The kids just love her. We have kids that we taught together two years ago, and they still come to her even though she’s not their teacher.”
An avid runner, Pell enjoys staying fit and tries to work out for at least an hour every day. Two years ago she ran a half marathon, and last year she ran a marathon for the first time.
“I like feeling good,” Pell said. “Exercise is a huge stress reducer. Being able to work out just kind of lifts the day off your shoulders.”
On April 20, Pell ran a hard-core 10 mile obstacle course designed to test stamina and strength called the Tough Mudder.
“This was my first one and it was awesome,” Pell said. “It’s all about teamwork. You go 10 miles through all sorts of obstacles. You’re jumping over fire, crawling in the mud and rocks, and climbing walls. You wouldn’t think that I do, but I like to do a little bit of extreme things.”
Pell brings the willpower from her athletics into the classroom. In Self Determination, Pell helps students identify their goals, values, and interests by sharing her own drive and persistence.
“It has pretty much always been a part of my life – being focused on something, figuring out how to get that goal, and going for it,” Pell said. “I like empowering students. I love to see students who are kind of shy at first and don’t really speak up for themselves come out of their shell.
Sophomore Katelyn Argabright took English 9 from Pell last year, and now she’s in Self Determination.
“I think the class has helped me because I didn’t normally focus on goals before,” Argabright said. “But since she has done the topic on goals, one of mine is getting A’s and B’s. Now I’m on point, because I’ve talked about it and worked on it.”
Pell individualizes the content for her students. If one approach doesn’t work, she figures out another.
“She’ll help if we don’t understand a concept,” Argabright said. “I just feel comfortable with her because she’s friendly, open, and willing to help.”
Pell also engages the students by providing interesting and fun material.
“I try to give them different tools and different strategies to survive high school,” Pell said. “And I try to help them enjoy it while they’re here. No one wants to do something that’s awful or not fun, so I try to make it interesting, fun, and different.”
Last term Pell had the students in her English 12 class write letters to Khaled Hosseini, the author of The Kite Runner telling him how much they enjoyed the book. Hosseini wrote back to say that he was glad he could share his culture. He sent autographed pictures, a letter to each student, and a bookmark.
“We didn’t actually get the letters until the term was over,” Pell said. “But I would see them in the hallway and say, ‘Come visit me because I have this,’ and their faces just lit up.”
Pell has been a Christian since high school and helps young people by mentoring kids in the youth group at her church.
“The faith helps you realize that there’s a bigger picture in life rather than just here or right now,” Pell said. “It keeps you grounded and focused on the path you need to go down. I guide the kids at the youth group on their journey through faith.”
It’s evident to those around her that she really cares for the people in her life.
“She helps everybody,” Resseman said. “She is really here for the kids. She wants to give as much as she possibly can, and when she doesn’t feel that she’s reaching them, she thinks she’s failing, but she really isn’t. This is just her second year here, and she already is an awesome teacher, but she’s going be one heck of a teacher when she really gets her feet under her.”