Jenna Queenan ’07
English as a New Language Teacher, Sunset Park High School
Jenna states, “Out of all of the schools to which I applied, GDS was most clearly committed to social justice. GDS made me who I am.” While at GDS she co-led Rainbow Connections (GSA) and helped develop the school’s gay pride week as well as trans day of awareness.
Educational equity has been her passion since college. She is currently a 9th and 11th grade English as a New Language (ENL) teacher at Sunset Park High School, a public high school in a predominantly low-income, immigrant community in Brooklyn, New York. Her experiences teaching in this community and the advocacy work she has completed have helped her understand that student experiences outside of school have impact on their academic learning. She has worked to ensure that social justice is interwoven in her teaching and says, “One of my primary goals as a teacher is to ensure that my students leave my classroom with the language to describe the world they experience as well as the tools to organize for change, if they wish to do so.”
She has taught classes on the history of race and protest in the U.S., explored the issue of environmental racism through the lens of Flint Hill, and helped start a school steering committee on issues of race and equity. The steering committee hosts monthly meetings to discuss racial identity and implicit bias, as well as how to create safe spaces in the classroom.
She is also active outside of the classroom, where she organizes work centers focusing on creating safer spaces for undocumented and immigrant students and families in schools. She co-founded Teach Dream, a community of more than 300 educators who collaborate city-wide to improve outcomes for immigrant students. They believe it is the school’s responsibility to provide students with resources to help them navigate their lives in and outside of school. “At the end of the day, all of my work is driven by my love for my students,” she said.