CPP Magazine

Broncos at Work

Jennifer Felter

Jennifer Hillmer Felter (’03, liberal studies, pre-credential program) is a third-grade teacher in the Covina-Valley Unified School District

In almost every course, we had to go out into classrooms in our community and learn by observing teachers and working directly with local elementary school students. There is nothing that can actually prepare you for teaching except by doing. Cal Poly Pomona is the leader in that educational philosophy.

My goal is to inspire a life-long love for learning in my students while empowering them to question and explore the world around them. My motivation is simple: the students themselves. I have 24 precious educational lives in my hands. I take that responsibility seriously every year.

Adjusting to virtual education was very difficult. My days look much different than the start of last year. I am either teaching my third graders online from my dining room table while keeping an eye on my daughter who is doing online first grade in the room next door, or I am teaching from my empty classroom. Balancing being a parent and an effective teacher is the hardest part right now.

Families can best support students by keeping a positive attitude, encouraging students to communicate with their teachers when they’re not understanding and also being understanding if things are not running smoothly. This is a brand-new way of teaching. We need to learn what works best as we go along. We’re all doing the best that we can.

Belen Pinedo 
Belén Pinedo (’11, liberal studies) is a fifth-grade teacher in the Azusa Unified School District


By the time my students reach fifth grade, some of them have preconceived ideas of their limitations academically and socially. I love showing my students that they can grow their brain into its greatest potential with hard work and that they can push themselves into breaking their preconceived limits.

I originally started as a graphic design major. I applied for work study in the Financial Aid Office. Through them, I was hired as a homework helper at the Ontario City Library, now known as the Ovitt Family Community Library. The families I helped encouraged me to become a teacher because they liked the way I helped their children understand homework concepts and helped them raise their grades.

Families need to remember to be patient with their children, teachers and most importantly, themselves. We are all trying to do the best we can, but sometimes technology does not cooperate. With a little bit of patience and grace, we will find what works best for our families and provide assistance where needed. It is vital to keep the communication lines open with families and educators because our main goal is student success.

To maintain student engagement, I try to incorporate TPR (Total Physical Response) — music, dance and interactive lessons. We also take plenty of brain breaks to ease our stress, frustration and brain fatigue. It is also important to let students feel ownership of their education by allowing them to express their ideas by encouraging participation. Breakout groups allow students to collaborate, have discussions and build community.