By MATTHEW KRISTOFFERSEN
Redlands Career Spotlight is a weekly series in which ETHIC interviews a Redlands professional about his or her daily life, career, education and more in order to give readers a more nuanced view into life after high school. This week, elementary school principal Jennifer Hosch relates how her grandmother’s love of reading and her personal ambition to help her community inspired her to pursue a career in education and become one of the most respected names in the school district.
Q: What is your profession, and how long have you been working?
A: Currently I am a principal of an elementary school – Judson & Brown. I started teaching in South Korea and worked there for one year, then moved to Arizona and was at a job fair where I was immediately hired and asked to move to California and teach in Fontana. I taught a bilingual second-grade class there for one year. I then came to Redlands and taught Kindergarten for the majority of my career–11 years. I was a fourth-grade teacher at Highland Grove and then a Teacher On Assignment for four different elementary schools for 2½ years. From there I was hired to be the Assistant Principal at Lugonia Elementary School for 2½ years and I have been here at J&B as principal for five years.
Q: Where did you get your education? Did you enjoy your time in college?
A: I received my B.S. in Elementary Education at York College of Pennsylvania, my Masters from the University of Redlands and my Administrative Credential from the University of Redlands. College was not my favorite thing. I had a hard time with tests. I was great at projects, homework and class assignments but taking tests was the worst! I just bombed them! I could have an A or a B going into a class and then take one test and all of sudden I was looking at a C or lower! It was horribly frustrating.
Q: Was becoming an elementary school principal something you always wanted to do?
A: It was the furthest thing from my mind. I wanted to be a congresswoman and change laws. I thought that there was a lot of injustice that needed to change when I was growing up and I was the one for the job. That was until I took my first American Government class and was bored out of my mind. I realized that if that bored me then I was not going to make it through four years of government classes.
I thought about how much I hated reading and hated school when I was in elementary school and how I cheated on my math tests in first grade. How I got in trouble for saying things that I shouldn’t say and purposely sticking my lips to the ice covered monkey bars and pulling them off so they would bleed and I could go home. I thought about how my grandmother took time to show me the one-room schoolhouse that she used to teach in and the way that she convinced me to read and really got me to love reading. She got me hooked by introducing me to “Big House in the Little Woods.” I never knew how much I would love historical fiction. My grandmother knew, but a teacher never took the time to know.
So, after deciding that I was not going to be a congresswoman, I decided to be a teacher. I wanted to be the one that was not going to let a child hate reading, cheat on tests or say bad words on the playground in hopes of getting sent home because they hated being at school and felt stupid. I wanted to be a light like my grandma was to me.
Q: What is the hardest part of your job?
A: The hardest part of my job is talking to adults who don’t want to hear that their child is responsible for an act that they did and that they have a consequence for it.
Q: What do you enjoy most about your job?
A: Every one of my students.
Q: What are the biggest misconceptions about your line of work/education?
A: That my job is disciplinary. It is not. It is one small facet of my job. I do a ton of paperwork and most people do not know that. I am responsible for a very large budget in some very restrictive categories which is not really talked about in college that much. I am supposed to be the instructional leader, be present in the classrooms and on the playground and work with all parent groups. I could give a list of all of the things that I do or that I am expected to do, but I love all of the parts of my job and wish that the day were longer so that I could actually do it all.
Q: Do you have any advice for high school students?
A: Don’t get hung up on grades being perfect. Stress is extremely unhealthy. I have yet to understand the draw to the universities that have freshman classes of over 100 students and require students to have nearly perfect grades from high school to get in. Yet, there are exceptional colleges that have 25 students on average in their freshman classes and aren’t looking for perfect scores. There are so many options out there. Don’t burn out before you get to college. Enjoy high school! You are still a kid!
Q: What is your favorite location in Redlands?
A: Wherever I can go to antique stores and then go out to eat!
Q: What do you do in your free time?
A: I have a gold medal in shopping!