Born and raised in Virginia Beach, VA, into a military family, Jenna Murdock started teaching at an early age as the oldest child amongst her siblings. It was not until attending the University of Florida that she officially committed to her career as an educator in pursuing a degree in Art Education. Upon graduation, she moved to Zambia as a volunteer with the Peace Corps, an informative experience she still reflects on to this day. After her time abroad, she returned to the United States pursuing her career in various educational settings. Perhaps the most influential job Jenna has had to date, is her role as a mother to two girls (who will also join Whittle this Fall!). Being a parent has taught her the deepest form of love and patience that she brings into the classroom. As a teacher she strives to ensure all students feel the safe, encouraged and loved – and are equipped with the right tools to navigate an increasingly connected and open world. We are so excited to welcome Jenna as a new member of our Early Learning Center Faculty - igniting a passion in our youngest learners for creativity and curiosity!
Fun Fact: Jenna learned a language called Kikaonde while living in Zambia. It's only spoken in the Northwest Province of Zambia.
Q: What inspired you to teach? A: Though I have been teaching most of my professional career, I was even more encouraged to do so after becoming a mother a few years ago. I have always known how important it is to have a teacher who cares deeply about his or her students, but I have experienced on a much deeper level the kind of love and patience that is required to guide children as a parent. My experience with motherhood has definitely informed my approach as a teacher. I hope to always provide the same sense of safety and guidance at school, as a child should receive at home. Feeling safe, encouraged, and loved...that's what everyone needs (and deserves). Q: Do you have a favorite teacher from your own education that has influenced you as a teacher? A: My absolute favorite teacher was my high school AP Art History Teacher, Mrs. Hofler. Learning world history through the lens of art not only sparked my interest, it helped me better understand the content. Imperialism, Monarchies, revolutions...art documented history before cameras existed to capture it. Her class provided me a framework of thinking, that helped me understand concepts and themes in other classes. The visual depiction of these eras and moments in time spoke to me as a learner in a way that made sense to me. I better understood world history, in using an art history lens of analysis - a true testament to the power of interdisciplinary and personalized learning! Q: What is your favorite topic as an educator? A: I love art, and I see it ALL around me. If I could design an X-Day, it would be an immersive museum-design class for students. To engage a design thinking mindset, students would build their own museum in: selecting and curating an exhibit, restoring or repairing works of art, planning an exhibit, and creating display information and print materials for patrons. Fine Art has a way of seeming and feeling unapproachable and impersonal. I would love to create an opportunity for students to really get to know an artist and his/her works in depth, and to see that work being enjoyed by others. Even Early Learning students have the capacity to connect with art in meaningful ways. I believe that the sooner someone is exposed to the arts, the less intimidating they seem. Simply beginning with learning the color wheel can lead down an infinite path of curiosity.
Recent exhibit at the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, D.C. It was an incredible collection of installations by Yakoi Kusama that included mirrors, lights, and so many beautiful colors... even an interactive room where patrons could add dot stickers to a white room, changing it gradually little by little with each visitor passing through. Though my girls were very little, they enjoyed it very much, and it was so fun experiencing that with them.
Jenna Murdock is just one of our faculty members passionate about igniting global education in the lives of our students. Keep an eye out for more opportunities to get to know our teachers, or attend one of our upcoming events to meet our team and learn more about our mission.