Position: First Grade Teacher
School: Brooklyn New School - PS 146
School District: New York City Department of Education - District 15
City, State: Brooklyn, New York
About the Nominee: Jenny Hardy was nominated by her principal, Anna Allanbrook. Ms. Hardy and Ms. Allanbrook have known each other for 16 years. During that time, Ms. Hardy has taught first, second and third grades at the Brooklyn New School. Her own children have also attended this school. According to Ms. Allanbrook, who became leader of the school in 1997, one of the most important jobs that she had was finding and hiring quality teachers. She still remembers interviewing Ms. Hardy in the summer of 2000 and recognizing that she would be a wonderful addition to the staff.
Ms. Hardy became a teacher a little bit later in life. Motherhood introduced her to the world of schools and inspired her to partake in a major career change. Prior to teaching, Ms. Hardy ran an extremely successful bakery in Greenwich Village. In some ways, her approach to teaching is not that different from her approach to baking. She sets a standard for herself and her students and expects everyone to rise to it, hence the tasty bread and the self-directed children.
It starts in the summer, with the setting up of her classroom and turning it into a well-organized space. Ms. Hardy creates an environment that is accessible to every one of the 25 students who walk through the classroom door that September.
It's Ms. Hardy who teaches each new first grade teacher to walk around the room on their knees to experience the space through the eyes of a first grade student. She talks to her colleagues daily to ensure collaboration and consistency across their practice. Her firm commitment to quality work means that every day, you will find her in her classroom after school, preparing lessons, reviewing student output and determining next steps. This approach consumes her work week, as she is tireless in her planning and deliberation about content.
When Ms. Hardy taught third grade, she worked with her colleagues to develop a curriculum that led students to discover many interesting aspects about African culture and geography. Never satisfied with the materials available, she wrote a grant so that she could spend the summer with her family in Tanzania. Her research took her to the cities, the rural areas and on a safari. She learned about the Tanzanian culture, environment, people, animals and resources. While Ms. Hardy collected tangible items on her journey, she also collected her thoughts in writing, producing two photo-illustrated books written for third graders. Both books remain a resource to this day.
Her former team knows that she is willing to give up a prep period every year to read her story and share her artifacts with the new third grade students, despite now being a first grade teacher. This is yet another example of her commitment, not only to her 25 students, but to the entire Brooklyn New School community.
Ms. Hardy is a woman with standards, both for herself and for others. Her expectations are high and she demands nothing less than the best for her students.