Jeni Wollenhaupt’s passion for teaching reaches deeply into the families she serves as one of Bridgeway Academy’s highly qualified academic advisors.
“She is an amazing person,” one of the parents of her students said during a chat. “I’ve never had teachers or academic advisors who cared so much about her students.”
Another parent wrote to Jeni saying, “I want to thank you for all the hard work that you do to make this easy for me. This by far has been the best decision that my husband and I have ever made for our daughter … We look forward to working with you again for the rest of her high school years.”
Jeni’s commitment as a caring human being shines brightly for her husband David, and their son Elijah, a wide-eyed toddler who is still at the point where they count his age in months.
Academic Advisors Help Students and Parents
Jeni has been one of Bridgeway’s academic advisors for more than three years. She enjoys helping her students (and parents) choose curriculum, mainly working with high school students in the textbook program, although a few of her students utilize the excellent online programs that Bridgeway offers. Like most Bridgeway academic advisors, she works with many students on a yearly basis, guiding them through the course and textbook selection.
Bridgeway’s big difference—assessing learning styles and personality types—plays a role in her initial suggestions to families, as well as throughout the school year.
“Especially if I have someone like an auditory learner versus a visual learner,” Jeni says. “For kinesthetic learners, there may not be as many options, but I encourage them to do the [live] Learning Labs for science, and to use manipulatives for math.”
She even goes the extra mile in her weekly emails the academic advisors send to their students by including study tips, suggestions for learning, and adding different information that directly connects with different learning styles.
“It might be a mnemonic to help the student remember the stages of cell division, ideas for brain breaks, or just suggestions to help the student learn a different way, remember in different ways, study in different ways,” she says of her role as an academic advisor.
Learning to Love Education
Jeni’s parents homeschooled her as an elementary student. Her dad was a pastor, and the family moved around a bit, but she considers “home” as Greenville, PA., the place her family moved to as she entered middle school.
After graduating from Wheaton College in Illinois, Jeni had some serious life decisions to make.
“I was interested in teaching, but I didn’t have a teaching license,” she remembers. “I didn’t want to pay to get one because I wasn’t sure if I’d like it. What I wanted to do was work in a different culture, step outside my personal comfort zone.”
She did that in a big way, heading to Japan to teach for seven years.
“At first I didn’t want to go to Japan, I wanted to go to a poorer country, but Japan was a door that kept opening,” she says, noting that the initial teaching contract was only for two years. But then it became one more year. And one more year.
“I lived in a small town in Japan, not a city, and in the mountains surrounded by rice fields,” she says. “It was really a good place for me.”
A local running team made it extra special for Jeni, who completed a few marathons after her return to the United States, and who continues to run when time permits while she raises a young son.
Commitment to Family
When Jeni did return to the U.S., she moved to the Lehigh Valley and lived with her grandmother while earning a Master’s in Education from Lehigh University. Living with her grandmother allowed Jeni to spend more time with an extended family she missed while she lived in Japan.
She met her husband, Dave, through the young adult ministry Bible study at their church. They teach a Sunday School class together for second graders. She and Dave have been together about as long as she’s been an academic advisor for Bridgeway.
“I love being creative and putting plans together, not just to learn about Jesus, but so they can apply it to their lives,” she says. “I love incorporating the senses and doing art and music.”
That drive is part of the reason she loves traveling and visiting museums and zoos, witnessing history come alive.
It’s also fun watching those same attributes growing in Elijah.
“It’s great being a mom,” Jeni says. “I’m excited as he grows up. We learn things together. I love reading books with him. We are exploring. Recently he likes cooking. He takes pots and pans and pretends he’s stirring. I gave him an empty ginger bottle, and he pretended to pour it into the pot. He loves imitating us and creating new things.”
Jeni creates an atmosphere of natural wonder in her everyday life, and with the lives of her students.
Bridgeway Academy has empowered a cadre of qualified academic advisors to support, assist, advise, and keep records and transcripts for its homeschooling families. We can do the same for you! Learn more on how to join the academically accredited programs that allow Bridgeway families to homeschool with confidence.