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No quitters here

February 25, 2005|by WANDA T. WILLIAMS

wandaw@herald-mail.com

WASHINGTON COUNTY - "Failure is not an option."

Those words of inspiration in bold lettering on a Kennedy Space Center poster are prominently displayed in Jenny Young's classroom at Lincolnshire Elementary School.

"My students are not allowed to say, 'can't,'" Young said. "We try again and again until we've done the best that we can do."

Those words of wisdom are from a first-year teacher who says she doesn't want to see low self-esteem keep any child from succeeding.

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So, she's turned the phrase into a teaching tool to motivate her fifth-grade students to set high goals. When they have doubts, the poster is there to remind them that "failure is not an option" and to that, Young said, she adds her encouragement.

Young, who always wanted to be a teacher, graduated cum laude from Salisbury (Md.) University.

Lincolnshire Principal Darlene Teach said Young, who is one of five new teachers at Lincolnshire this year, is a "natural."

"If you didn't know she was in her first year, you may assume she's been here for a long time," Teach said.

Despite her youth, Young, 23, brings to her work a level of wisdom and maturity often seen in more-seasoned teachers, Teach added.

Young, who arrives at school by 7 a.m. and often stays until 5 p.m., puts in the extra time to build personal relationships with her students.

"When they understand that you really care, they don't want to disappoint you," she said.

Young picked up the Kennedy Space Center poster during a trip to Cape Canaveral, Fla., last summer. She made the trip after completing her student-teaching assignment at Prince Street School in Salisbury.

Young said her experience at that school prepared her for the harsh realities of life inside and outside the classroom.

"For some of those kids, school was like an escape, a place to get away from some pretty challenging home situations," Young said.

Young said she's fulfilling a lifelong dream.

"I'm doing what I was born to do - that's to make a difference in the life of a child. I've spent many nights praying to God, asking, 'Where am I supposed to be?' and I know this is right," she said.

Young's parents, Marlene and Michael Young, said that for as long as they can remember, their daughter has wanted to teach.

"When she was little, while a lot of kids were having tea parties, she was playing school," Marlene Young said. "Jenny was always caring and compassionate and looking out for other's interests."

In the future, Young, who lives in Smithsburg, hopes to return to school to earn a master's degree in elementary counseling, she said.

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