Meet Jenny E.

Early Childhood Graduate

“It’s humbling to be back in college. But my professor, Eileen Mahoney, took the time to help me through that first semester.”

As a mother of six children, a wife, and a library volunteer, Jenny Edwards already had plenty on her plate when she first decided to go back to school. But when her oldest son started at Hudson Valley, Jenny decided it was time to look into pursuing her dream of becoming a teacher. So, in 2015, she added "college student" to her growing list of titles.

Jenny wasn't completely new to the task of teaching, and was already a pro at juggling multiple responsibilities at once. For over 15 years, she had homeschooled her own children, and at one point was teaching five different grade levels in the same year. But when her family moved to Cambridge, the four middle children asked to go to public school and so, during the school year, she was left with her two-year old and a little more free time than usual. 

"I had one year where it was me and the baby and it was great, but I need to teach," she explained. "I guess it's a passion. I'm thankful that I decided to go back to school and fulfill my dream of becoming a preschool teacher."

Jenny decided to find out if there was a teacher education program here at the college and found the Early Childhood program, which proved to be a perfect fit. After meeting with the program's academic advisor a month before fall classes were to begin and scrambling to find proof of her high school diploma, she was enrolled, and a little nervous.

"It's humbling to be back in college after 20 years," she said. "You're sitting there in a classroom with students who are your kids' age. But my professor, Eileen Mahoney, took the time to help me through that first semester. And it's led to everything since."

While a second-year student in the Early Childhood program, Jenny was approached by her local library and asked if she would work on setting up a preschool there. The Village of Schuylerville had no preschool program and the public library had stepped up to offer a space. She was more than happy to accept.

"I felt like I walked into a job that was tailored just for me," she said with a smile.

The first summer she ran the preschool, about 10 youngsters, ages 3 to 5, took advantage of the free, twice weekly program. The next year, the number of students doubled. In 2017, the preschool was named Library Program of the Year by the Southern Adirondack Library System for its innovative community service programming. Jenny credits her experience as a Hudson Valley student with helping her create such a positive experience for students in her own classroom.

"All of the elements that went into that program came out of what I learned in the classroom here," she said. "Being a student at Hudson Valley, I could not have asked for a better experience. When you go out in the public schools and the private preschools, they love Hudson Valley students. They know the education you get here is so good, and so deep."