By Jackie White
Today’s Life Story is one that I hold close to my heart. This story is about a dear friend of mine, Jenny Moehn. She’s a teacher of reading, a teacher of theater, she teaches kids to be good people and most importantly, she teaches kids to believe in themselves.
Jenny is someone who has always lived her life in the most positive way. She takes a genuine interest in others and makes everyone feel like they matter. Her smile is infectious and can warm most any heart. These are some of Jenny’s strengths and they are exemplified in her life’s work. It’s unmistakable that Jenny is living her best life by living out her life purpose.
Oh, the Drama!
When Jenny was in fourth grade she attended a play of her friend’s sister. It was “My Fair Lady". Jenny still remembers that in that moment a spark was lit in her heart. She was bit by the theater bug. Years later, Jenny had the opportunity to participate in her high school musical, but for the first two years of high school, fear got the best of her and she opted to assist behind the scenes. Jenny finally conquered her fear and made it to the stage upon the insistence of her theater teacher. What she found was she absolutely loved it! That teacher, thankfully, gave Jenny the courage she needed to pursue her dreams.
As Jenny moved onto college all she thought about was wanting to be a theater major. The impression from her own theater teacher inspired her to want to teach others about theater. Unfortunately, there was a small catch to her plans. Her parents felt that teaching theater “wasn’t a real job” and they insisted Jenny choose something else. Jenny reluctantly did and spent her college years pursuing a degree in English. For Jenny there was no spark there. It wasn’t what she wanted to do and her grades reflected it. That’s when Jenny found the courage to tell her parents that she truly wanted to teach theater. Skeptically they agreed to give her the chance to turn her grades around by entering into the School of Theater Education. Jenny’s grades quickly turned from dismal to honor role. That’s the power of following your heart. Her passion was re-ignited and she felt her life was on the right track.
Jenny graduated with a major in theater education and communications education. She worked her first year out of college in a theater company located in California. For many reasons including the 1989 earthquake, Jenny left California and returned home to Wisconsin. There she took a job waitressing at a local sports bar. Her dreams of teaching theater went on hold, but this time was not all for nothing. During her stint at the sports bar, she met her future husband, Dan. Also, during this time an old friend’s mother called Jenny with an opportunity to work as an aid in the local school district. Jenny jumped at the opportunity and soon realized a passion she never knew she even had. That passion was teaching kids who were in the special education classes.
It’s funny how life begins to unfold in ways you could never predict.
Jenny didn’t waste any time and began to pursue a master’s degree in special education and later a cross categorical certification. She and Dan married and moved to Monroe Wisconsin and began their family. They have lived in Monroe for the last 25 years. Jenny currently works as a special education teacher at Monroe High School and has worked there for 17 years.
Jenny states that her primary objective in her role as a teacher is to help those who are challenged with reading. She knows how important and powerful it is for kids to know how to read. She has found that bringing the books to life by personally reading aloud to her students helps to get them engaged. Jenny uses her theater skills to help these kids with their reading and to learn to appreciate the wonder that can be found in the pages of a book.
Inspiring Others to Do Better:
Jenny says that teaching these kids makes life an adventure every day! She loves it all from the challenging student to the loving student. They are all wonderful in their own ways. Jenny uses her positive outlook and enthusiasm to work with her students to help them to believe in themselves as much as she believes in them. Some of the students she works with come from impoverished backgrounds and some have a negative outlook on their future, believing that their life will be very limited. This where Jenny’s real strengths come to light. She is a true inspirer of others to live their best life. She breaks through to these kids to get them to understand they have great possibilities in life! In fact, this is so important to her, each week she has her kids watch a story about an inspiring person and they talk through the person’s challenges. She uses this as a platform for her students to recognize their limiting beliefs and how they can work through their own life challenges. She wants them to know they need to not give up on themselves and that their future can be bright!
Seeing growth in her kids is the reward. When they choose to push themselves to make better choices, Jenny is proud. When they choose to be a good person who is doing right in the world, Jenny’s heart is full. Her ability to inspire these kids is a gift from God. It is truly her life purpose.
When the Timing is Right
Jenny’s first passion in life, theater, that she began to pursue back in California so many years ago has also found a place in her life today. Jenny has brought together her two passions, teaching and theater by directing the school’s play and musical two times per year. This is such a great example of how a person’s passions can be woven into their life.
Jenny says children who take part in theater programs learn so many valuable skills such as thinking on their feet, confidence, learning to trust others and being in the moment. The theater kids are also very accepting and this allows each kid to feel comfortable just being themselves. That can be a rarity for kids these days.
Jenny is passing on the favor that she received so many years ago when fear was blocking her from her dreams. Jenny is now the theater teacher who is encouraging her students to come out from behind their fear and learn to shine. Helping these kids realize their potential is the greatest reward.
Jenny looks back on her place in life today and although it is sure that she has touched so many lives by being an involved and caring teacher, her greatest accomplishment and pride is in own children Jessica age 26, Ethan age 23 and Grace age 21. She is reaping the benefits now of having raised good kids. Each are off on their own finding their life purposes and making their mark on the world and Jenny couldn’t be more proud.
One of Jenny’s roles in life is helping kids to live their best life. She is providing not only life skills but the inspiration and enthusiasm for these kids to see the possibilities. She is changing lives by teaching these kids to believe in themselves. What a gift! Jenny tells me she isn’t sure she has found her all of life purpose yet and that she feels there is more to come. Wow! I can’t wait to see what’s next!
This Life Story has more to it. Jenny also is living her most difficult role in life today by being the daughter of someone who is battling a memory-related illness similar to Alzheimer’s. We will discuss the challenges of having a loved with declining memory and how caring for an ailing parent can be possibly one of the hardest things you'll ever have to do. Check out that blog on November 25, 2019.
Jackie White has been writing about life and its ups and downs for many years. With a degree in Industrial Psychology and a life-long student of personal development she is intrigued by how each individual chooses to live their life. Jackie feels strongly that truly living your best life is imperative to attaining peace and fulfillment. SoulShine was borne of her desire to inspire and teach others to live their best life. This is her mission and her dream.