School Within a School (SWS) history teacher Jen Martin is taking on a new role this school year as the Interim Social Studies Curriculum Coordinator. In addition to running Student Government and the Whipple Writing Fellowship, Martin is an avid knitter and listener of murder podcasts. Her house is like a zoo, with a blind dog, another dog, two cats and a hermit crab named Beyoncé.
Are you enjoying your new position?
I definitely am. It’s a really strange year. I do really like being in groups of people who are trying to solve problems. Zoom is fine, but you don’t run into people; you don’t have little conversations. It’s fine, except that it’s very limited: it’s only going to happen if I schedule a meeting with someone when they have time, versus just being in the office and being able to be available. So I’d say that’s a big disadvantage.
Did you always want to be a history teacher?
I could have probably been an English teacher. The truth is English is very relevant, but knowing history is a life skill for any party you ever go to. You just want to be an educated person who understands why the world is the way it is. I also think it’s just fun.
Since your dad taught at West Point, was it difficult to learn in school because you were always moving?
We didn’t have twenty APs to choose from or that kind of thing, but when you travel the world, you learn history so much more relevantly. I went to France at least twice a year my entire life, so I learned a ton of history. I lived in Texas, Oklahoma, Washington State. You learn so much different state history. I had a much more robust historical education, but it was mostly through travel. It wasn’t because I had great history teachers.
Is there anything else you would like to add about being the Interim Social Studies Curriculum Coordinator?
All I can say is that my goal this year is to make sure that the social studies department, the teachers, feel supported and that we are doing the best job we can for the students during this time. My job is to hear from students and teachers when they feel like something could be better in the social studies department. I really want to encourage students to talk to me about that. I think my teachers know they can talk to me about that, but students probably don’t, so you should tell me and I’ll figure out if that might work.
Do you have a favorite tv show or podcast?
Listen, everyone should be watching “Schitt’s Creek”. It just won every Emmy. It’s so good. It has the most positive representation of a gay relationship that’s non-drama from the start to the finish. They just love each other; there’s nothing weird about it, which I personally, as a lesbian, was very happy about. It’s also a comedy, so it’s so good. I love to listen to murder podcasts – I don’t know why. It’s true crime podcasts, mostly on cold cases. There must be a history thing about it.
Besides watching “Schitt’s Creek” and listening to murder podcasts, are there any other things you enjoy doing?
I would say that travel is a big thing that I usually really enjoy doing. So while we were teaching remotely, I drove from here to Utah. When you drive across the country during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s crazy. It was also so interesting to see places that are nothing like Massachusetts. It’s very illuminating to travel in your own country.