Jennifer Bradshaw is both teacher and coach; its no wonder she's Polytech High School's Teacher of the Year.
Polytech High School's Jennifer Bradshaw is one dedicated teacher and coach. Witness this: on April 10, she was out on the softball diamond with the school's girl softball team, hitting fungos.
On April 11, she went into labor. On April 12, Brandshaw and her husband, fellow Polytech teacher Trevor Brandshaw were first-time parents.
"Oh, yes, I was a tomboy," she laughs. "Definitely. I was very active. I'd rather have been out playing with the boys at recess than with the girls."
Bradshaw, 30, is one of those teachers who combine a love of science with a love of sports and athletics. Not only does she teach biology, she is the girls softball coach and assistant volleyball coach.
One might think sports and biology might not have much to do with each other, but you'd be wrong. They're both part of Brandshaw's thinking on teaching.
"Kids have to be involved," she said. "When I coach softball, we arrange the practices so that the kids are always involved, constantly doing something.
"I apply that same philosophy in my classes. The kids are learning when they're actively engaged, actively involved, instead of me standing up there talking. They're the ones who carry out the experiments, they're the ones doing the work."
Polytech Principal Dr. Jason Peel agrees.
"Every time I visit Mrs. Bradshaw's room, students are engaged," he said. "I know this because students are usually up and talking to one another in groups to solve a problem or complete an assignment. Mrs. Bradshaw's approach is simple. She works hard, she's organized, and she creates meaningful work for students."
Born and raised in Wilmington, Bradshaw came into teaching via sports, teaming up with her mother coaching softball.
"At a young age, we started coaching together in the local leagues around Wilmington," she said. "When I was 12, I helped her run clinics, I'd demonstrate and do drills.
"When I was 14 or 15, we coached a 10-and-under traveling ball team together."
But as much as she loved sports, upon graduating from Brandywine High School and entering the University of Delaware in 2001, Bradshaw was so unsure of where she was headed she didn't declare a major upon enrolling. At first, she leaned toward biomedical engineering, but decided that wasn't a good fit.
"It's always been about science," she said. "I've always loved science.
"I had some really excellent teachers who were really passionate about teaching. My biology, chemistry and physics teachers enjoyed sharing their knowledge with their students."
Bradshaw holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology, with minors in chemistry and coaching science and a Master's Degree in Instruction.
Bradshaw said she was pleased and flattered to be nominated as Polytech's Teacher of the Year, but surprised when she won the honor.
"I found out at a spring pep rally," she said. "My husband runs the pep rallies, but he didn't know. I was a little late and they had to delay it because I wasn't there. I was out dropping my son off."
"It was truly an honor," Bradshaw said. "I really do love it at Polytech. I have a lot of respect for the teachers and the administration there. I just think it's awesome they thought so highly of me."
When not teaching or coaching, Bradshaw is out on the beach with husband Trevor and son Joseph, now two months old.
"We're definitely beach people," she said. "We paddleboard, surf, water ski and go boating. We're always out doing something. As soon as Joey's old enough to sit on the front of a paddleboard, he'll be out there paddling around the bay."