Welcome to wildcat country!
My name is Jennifer Edwards, principal of West Decatur Elementary School.
I have spent the better part of two decades dedicating my life to educating students. I graduated from Auburn University Montgomery, earning a bachelor's and master's degrees in elementary education. I became certified in educational leadership from AUM and became a National Board Certified teacher in 2009. I was also the winner of the prestigious Milken Educator Award, which recognizes teacher-leaders who are in the early to middle part of their careers and are both innovative and effective educators.
My third-grade teacher impacted me greatly because she treated me kindly. She cared about her students, and I think that's the footsteps I walk in today that I care about my students. I care about people and know where I need to be to significantly impact my students' lives here at West Decatur Elementary School.
What do you love about your job?
The main thing that I love about my job is my students. I love to see their smiling faces in the morning and say hello to them. I believe you must love kids, clothe them, and feed them before you teach them. That's the philosophy I have here. I tell my faculty and staff that every day might not be perfect, but we have a purpose every day.
What personality traits do you contribute to your success?
Integrity, caring about people's feelings first, and how you treat people. When you treat people right, they will work side-by-side with you and do anything you ask to support your vision and be successful. I love this quote by John Wooten. He said, "Be more concerned with your character than your reputation because your character is what you are while your reputation is what people think you are." I tell people to lead by example. That's what I try to do. When you lead by example, people are willing to support you and eager to help you succeed. If my faculty and staff aren't successful, I can't be successful. That's how I continue to grow by having good character.
What's something most people don't know about you?
I was a cheerleader captain and homecoming queen in high school. I participated in numerous clubs. I also have a twin brother.
What best advice motivated you to become an educator/principal?
Love kids and put kids first. I think that's the best advice I have ever received. You have to come into this profession because you love kids. It can be a lonely field. You have to make the best decisions for students, which may not be the best for an adult. That's what I have to keep in mind.
What is one character trait you hope to instill in your students, and why?
I think one character trait I hope to leave behind is my tracks. We are the wildcats. I want to leave upbeat tracks behind. I tell my students to remember what Dr. Seuss says, "Why fit in when you were born to stand out." I tell my students to be you don't try to play someone else's role
What job outside of education would you have liked to pursue?
Besides this one, the best job I had was working at McDonald's. I worked there during college. The teenagers had customer service rolling; we had customer satisfaction. It was awesome. I would love to go back to McDonald's and teach professional development. I also worked as a teller at a bank. When I retire, I might do that again.
I love what I do. I wouldn't change it for the world, even on difficult days.