Jena Addison: Eighth grade English Language Arts teacher gets more from scholars by expecting more

Jena Addison

English Language Arts teacher Jena Addison has been teaching at Uplift Infinity with the same group of scholars since the school opened three years ago.  She started with the first class of sixth graders and has progressed with them each year.  The time spent with the same group of scholars has given her a unique perspective on the needs of her scholars.  This year, because of her experience, emphasis was placed on reading comprehension for all eighth graders at Uplift Infinity.

“We have really worked on explaining our thoughts and processes we are going through as readers. When scholars think about reading like that, it is something that everyone can do and improve on. You are not born a good reader or a poor reader; it must be practiced and developed. My kids have really embraced this idea and adopted the notion of a growth mindset when it comes to reading and beyond,” Ms. Addison said.

Their efforts resulted in 95% of Uplift Infinity eighth graders passing the reading portion of the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) exam.  Despite what many would see as a successful result, Ms. Addison practices what she preaches by keeping a growth mindset for herself and her team.

“When I heard that 95% of our eighth graders passed the reading portion of STAAR, it meant that we could get 100% next time. It meant that the mindset and the culture we set in class of hard work is expected and respected from 100% of us, 100% of the time, was much more critical to success than just the content that was taught. It meant that we still had a lot of work to do,” Ms. Addison said.

Uplift Infinity Secondary Director Vachon Brackett gives credit to his entire eighth grade team of Hannah Parker, Benjamin Richards, Monica Patterson, Candice Parhms, Kevin Mello, Melanie Harrell, Andrea Villanueva, and Abel Flores, for their hard work and impressive results.

“95% of 8th Grade scholars passed the eighth grade reading STAAR and the entire eighth grade team did amazing work.  Jena in particular embodies what we are instilling into all of our scholars: dedication, lifelong learning, and the ability to reflect and act upon scholar’s individual needs,” Mr. Brackett said.

Ms. Addison says her scholars deserve the credit because they do the work necessary to succeed.

“All of the credit belongs to my kids.  When my scholars are doing all the work and they get to experience for themselves the tremendous pride and sense of accomplishment that comes with giving everything to a task that is worth doing, it makes my day.  I am just happy to be there to support them in that effort,” she said.

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