AJ Jennings

(they/them)

MEd

Associate

Illinois, USA

AJ (they/them) is an early childhood educator with 15 years classroom teaching experience. They have taught at the University of Chicago Laboratory School and began their career at Park West Cooperative Nursery School in Chicago. They had the privilege of working with incredible mentor teachers in their fledgling years as an educator. Through these relationships, AJ carved out their teaching practice, which is rooted in children co-constructing their understanding of the world around them with their peers, families, and teachers. As crucial as the childrens' understanding of the exterior world, is the simultaneous development of an understanding of their interior and emotional landscapes. This includes acquiring language to understand and express their emotions. AJ has been inspired by the Reggio Emilia approach and specifically the idea of the "100 languages of children," which illuminates the concept that expressive language is not the only language through which we can communicate. In the few years between teaching at Park West and Lab, AJ was the Curriculum and Professional Development Director at the Illinois Safe Schools Alliance, a statewide nonprofit that advocates for LGBTQ+ students. In that time, AJ created and facilitated professional development for teachers, administrators and parents about creating affirming learning environments for LGBTQ+ students broadly and specifically transgender and gender expansive students. AJ loves camping, canning, board games, and reading. They spent their early years in southwestern Michigan's fruit belt.

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