Educators are constantly challenged to teach students in ways they find memorable and engaging. In an age of digital distraction and periodic remote learning, this task is even more difficult. However, one DoDEA educator and FEA member in Japan, Jami LeFebre, looks for any opportunity to make lessons more interactive and memorable for her students. Whether she has her students interview veterans or build bird feeders to observe nature, LeFebre is able to create engaging lessons that inspire a passion for learning.
LeFebre, a fourth-grade teacher at Arnn Elementary, believes that interactive, hands-on experiences help student make greater connections which increases student learning. On November 10, the day before Veterans Day, she had her students interview U.S. veterans on their experiences in the military. Students took turns asking questions to the veterans seated with them, learned about what roles they served in, where they were stationed, and their favorite memories from the service.
She noted how the students “seemed so interested in what the veterans were saying, and they really seemed to enjoy the interview process”. “They were really engaged in listening, and I think their questions went beyond what was originally asked of them,” she said. Several students expressed they felt a greater appreciation for both veterans and Veterans Day.
LeFebre describes her teaching style as hands-on and highly applicable to real life:
“I like to provide as many opportunities as possible for students to remember our lessons. Impactful learning is the best way to make life-long learners. Students won’t remember worksheets or standardized tests, but they will remember these veterans and other opportunities I enjoy putting together for them”, she said.
This wasn’t the first time LeFebre created engaging activities for her students. For their unit on observing nature, her students built a bird feeder. Before Thanksgiving, she had them make butter ‘’the old-fashioned way’’. To teach students about the democratic process, she had each student make a map of the local base then vote together on their favorite one. While teaching about migration to the American West, LeFebre had students build an outdoor ‘Oregon Trail’ with shoeboxes and signs, then they discussed what the settlers would have experienced on their journeys.
Over her career, LeFebre has served in several school leadership positions. In her first 15 years of teaching, she was involved in many groups, including school committees, school leadership positions, after-school sports and clubs, and was an FRS for four years. Today she is a member of both the PTO and NEATA, as well as a wife and mother.
LeFebre is an example of how educators consistently go above and beyond to inspire their students and create a passion for learning. Her creative and interactive approach to teaching exemplifies how public education can be truly life-changing for children, and how educators deserve dignity in their profession.