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Teacher Jennifer Yost stays present with her students

This week is Teacher Appreciation Week, a time to show gratitude for the hard work of educators across the country. From kindergarten reading circles to high school science labs, nearly 100,000 teachers work with students in North Carolina each day. This year, we asked teachers to nominate their colleagues so we could share the stories of their compassion, commitment, and dedication. To nominate a teacher for recognition, please complete the short survey below. Teachers, thank you for all you do for our students and our state.

Jennifer Yost was not going to follow in her parents’ footsteps. The daughter of two educators- her father at the collegiate level and her mother in middle school- wanted to study textiles. As a student at North Carolina State University, Yost was drawn to the labs, machines, and weaving patterns. The course of study made her realize how much she loved all things math.

But Yost couldn’t deny she loved working with kids. As a teenager, she enjoyed her work with other youth. When her love of math and her passion for working with students combined, she decided to become an educator.

For the last 17 years, Yost has taught high school math. She says the kids are what keeps her in the classroom. As an educator at Leesville Road High School in Raleigh, Yost teaches sophomores and seniors using a hands-on approach.

 “I try really hard for the kids to see the ‘why’ and to see how it connects to something they already learned,” Yost said. She wants the students to realize, “this is math you’ve done before — it’s just with crazy functions.”

Yost’s classroom at Leesville Road High School. Caroline Parker/EducationNC

 Using group activities, Yost has her students come to the board and explain their problems. She believes their job is to do the problems, and her job is to facilitate the process. 

Yost at Leesville Road High School. Caroline Parker/EdNC

“I close my door and forget about what goes on outside because my job is [to be] here and to help them. It excites me when they enjoy it and when they understand it.” 

Yost attributes much of her success to her fellow educators. “If I hadn’t worked here, I would not be the teacher I am. The teachers are very supportive and helpful and want to help you succeed… because it’s all about the kids, and if you are helping other teachers, you’re helping more kids.”

The strength of Yost’s classroom and teaching style lies in her ability to quiet the outside voices of the world and focus on her students.

When asked about the future of public education, she thinks for a minute and then says, “My daughter is in public school, so I feel like if I can make a difference in public education, then she benefits from that, and so do other kids. It’s important. Public education is important. I mean, they are the next leaders of our society, right? We have to feed that.”

Note: Jennifer Yost was nominated by fellow educator Trey Ferguson. 

Caroline Parker

Caroline Parker is the director of rural storytelling and strategy for EducationNC. She covers the stories of rural North Carolina, the arts, STEM education and nutrition.