State debate teacher of the year, Jen Medina

East High's Jennifer Medina more than a coach

C.Hexamer

C.Hexamer

Caitlin Hexamer

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It’s your turn to present in class, you’re sweating bullets and you got very little sleep last night. Here it comes, the teacher is calling your name and you’re walking slowly up to the front of the room to give your speech. You look up and see her there. “Breathe” she mouths and smiles at you.  East High Speech and debate teacher Jennifer Medina helps people overcome these fears every day.
“I teach to help others become confident in the ways that they express themselves, writing and speaking,” Medina said.
Medina has been teaching since 2001 at East as a creative writing and debate teacher. Medina’s classroom is accommodating for everyone. She has a set of desks in the back that are for students who are having a bad day and need space. These desks show that she cares for her students and she trusts them.
“She was there when I needed her and she gave me space when needed just as a teacher should,” sophomore Christina Tillotson said.
As a coach, Medina has many achievements, including: She coached East students to Nationals 11 times, East was recognized as the leading chapter of all of West Iowa last year, Medina has been elected by her peers to be on the West Iowa board for the National Speech and Debate Association for almost 10 years. She has also helped on the rules committee for National Speech and Debate Association. She has not however gotten the Coach of the year award from the University of Iowa yet. Despite all of the personal success, Medina’s focus’s in on students.
“But the biggest award is seeing the students grow in their speaking,” Medina said.
Medina is a caring teacher, she loves the school and the students in it. Teaching is an important job and it’s not easy either, to be able to teach in a way that students understand is a talent that is important and needs to be acknowledged.
“I can learn really well from her way of teaching,” senior debate student Parker Gay said.
Medina is the head debate coach with Kimberly Traczyk as her assistant coach. As a coach of debate and a teacher, Medina helps students to overcome fears and open up. Since Medina loves the art of speech, it helps her to critique and support her students.
“I actually prefer the speech events and that is what East is known for on the circuit we compete on. The people and ideas that are communicated are encouraging and refreshing, “ Medina said.
Medina and Traczyk as teachers hope their students learn but at the same time they are learning themselves.  Students are sometimes the best teachers about the ever changing world.
“It’s always an adventure and always ends up teaching all of us a little or a lot about life,” Traczyk said.
In Medina’s teaching career she has been at many different places including Orchard Place, A mental health ward which taught her many things, such as patience. Where she teaches also reflects who she is. As an East High graduate, she knows the school and community and they know her.
“I think that teaching at the school that I graduated from and the area that I live in gives me a strong sense of the community that I serve.  I have high expectations of the students, their families, and teachers to carry out the responsibility of educating the next generation of citizens that come from East,” Medina said.

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