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ALUMNI SPOTLIGHT: Jennifer Lassiter

Jennifer-Lassiter PhotoJennifer Lassiter graduated from USC Upstate in 1996 with a degree in elementary education. She fondly recalls how her education and the experience and wisdom of her professors greatly prepared her for her career.

“My teachers at USC Upstate made the information I was studying applicable to real life,” said Jennifer. “I received lots of hands-on experience and any criticism was always constructive. The professors truly wanted me to succeed. The faith they had in me and the passion they had for the content they taught made a world of difference.”

There are two faculty members that left lasting impressions on Jennifer. She credits Dr. Ed Donovan with instilling in her a great love of science and discovery and for teaching her to believe in herself and her abilities. Dr. Brenda Davenport helped Jennifer to develop an even greater love of adolescent literature and writing, and also provided her with the opportunity to work in the Writing Center at USC Upstate.

“This was where I got my first taste of teaching and realized how much I loved it,” said Jennifer, who teaches sixth grade language arts teacher at Woodruff Middle School and was named the Teacher of the Year for Spartanburg School District 4 for 2005-2006.

Ten years have passed since Jennifer began teaching and through the years many of her former students maintain contact with her. Through e-mails, phone calls and Christmas cards, the students keep her informed of awards they have won, achievements they’ve made, what colleges they will be attending, and what goals they have for the future. All of this is very satisfying to Jennifer.

“My greatest contribution is that I inspire students every day,” she said. “I show every child who steps into my classroom that he or she can succeed and I encourage every child to work hard and dream big, really big. I let them know that this journey into reading and writing is one we can take together, and we can learn from each other because the best kind of learning is lifelong learning. Students leave my classroom with a genuine desire to read and write and a love of learning. My students are my greatest accomplishment.”

Jennifer and her husband Chris have been married for 17 years. They have two sons, Zach and Jacob.