We are proud to share this guest post by Jennifer Semanko, teacher at Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran School and Child Care, offering her perspective teaching pre-K at the private school. Also read a parent’s perspective about Shepherd of the Hills.
Hello, my name is Jennifer Semanko. I’m a Texas native and San Antonio has been my home for over 25 years. My husband George and I have been married for 23 years and we enjoy going on road trips and discovering new places. I’m very excited to share with you why I love being a teacher at Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran School and Child Care.
Joining Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran School
Previously, I was the Pre-K Director at my home church’s preschool, but after serving there for seven years, our school closed. A family from our congregation had three children that attended Shepherd of the Hills and passed my name to the principal. After our school closed, I explored different options over several months. I got a phone call to visit the Shepherd of the Hills campus, and when I stepped into the pre-K hall and playground, I knew I had found my new school home and prayed for the chance to interview. Shortly thereafter, I was hired as a pre-K teacher. Now, three years later, I am serving as Pre-K Team Leader.
Shepherd’s mission statement says, “We are a community of parents, staff, and children working together to foster Christ-like qualities in all we pursue; spiritual growth, academic excellence, physical, social, emotional, and social development.” I feel happy and at home because the school models the values that are important to me and how I want to live and serve in my life: Christ is in everything.
Becoming Part of a Family at Shepherd of the Hills
Before working at Shepherd of the Hills, I became familiar with the school because my previous preschool had displayed their promotional materials in our office. Families who were interested in continuing Christian education beyond preschool had enrolled at Shepherd of the Hills and had great experiences. Whether it was families I knew, neighbors whose children attended there, or in general conversations, Shepherd of the Hills has always had a positive reputation. In the three years I have worked at Shepherd, I’ve met adults who work there who went to school there as children, and now they serve in leadership roles. The children of those leaders are now having their own experiences at Shepherd, too. It’s also really unique and endearing to see the relationships families have with each other and how they interact on campus because their children have been at Shepherd growing and learning together.
Embracing Innovation and Diversity
Shepherd of the Hills embraces possibilities to serve all of God’s people. We have a diverse group of staff, families, and students. This year we welcomed a new pre-K family to San Antonio and to Shepherd who did not speak English. The family’s daughter has spent six months immersed in my pre-K classroom and she is expressing her ideas and having conversations with peers. Her enthusiasm encourages her to have more new experiences like participating in our hot lunch program and signing up for extracurricular activities after school.
At the start of Covid, I had to teach from home. I used technology resources such as YouTube and Zoom to keep the learning going and hold on to the relationships that I worked so hard to create that year. I had to learn how to be an “edutainer” to keep the learning fun and engaging through a screen. Attending conferences, listening to podcasts and webinars, taking continuing education courses, and meeting with my administrators and colleagues regularly help me deliver the high quality instruction my students deserve. By investing in my skills, I can invest in my students so they can continue to love learning and be great at it, too. Shepherd supports my professional goals by providing a budget for development and growth, holding weekly devotional staff meetings, and sharing resources for online learning.
Learning about Shepherd of the Hills and Its Traditions
Shepherd families have so much to look forward to when they enroll in our school. Shepherd enrollment starts with children as early as six weeks old and continues through eighth grade. Before and after school care is available. There are opportunities for children to be in competitive sports and extracurricular activities or clubs such as dance, tots, robotics, and lego club. You can look forward to several fun traditions throughout the year such as Ram Fest, Spirit Days, and the Fiesta Parade. My favorites are La Posada and Rodeo Day. This year we added a Jingle Jog to our traditions.
We are empowered to have and make choices that impact our lives and the lives of people we love. As a potential Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran School family, I encourage you to walk our campus to see how we care for your children. Visit our school Facebook page to see our future leaders in action. Sit in on a Wednesday Chapel service to hear the voices of children as they worship. Let us know who you are and what is important to your family because you are important to us. I encourage potential private Christian teachers to visit our campus and observe different staff members while they are in a classroom or interacting with families and students. Ask questions about their experiences and why they have chosen to represent Christ at Shepherd. Finally, whether as an employee or a new Shepherd family, be an active participant, volunteer your skills, have conversations and ask questions. The mission is carried out—and you take ownership—when it is nurtured mutually.
Charter Moms Chats
Watch Jennifer Semanko, teacher at Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran School, speak with Inga Cotton on Charter Moms Chats on March 23, 2022 at 4:00 PM Central live on Facebook and YouTube.
Jennifer Semanko is Pre-K Team Leader at Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran School and Child Care.
Read More About Private School Options
- “Erin Stinson Offers a Parent Perspective from Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran School,” Erin Stinson, San Antonio Charter Moms, February 23, 2022
- “2022–23 Guide to Enrolling in Catholic Schools in San Antonio,” San Antonio Charter Moms, February 1, 2022
- “Incarnate Word Virtual High School Offers Catholic Online School for Girls,” Anne Schaefer-Salinas, San Antonio Charter Moms, August 18, 2021
- “Catholic Preschools in San Antonio,” San Antonio Charter Moms, June 16, 2021
- “Choosing Online Private Schools,” San Antonio Charter Moms, May 13, 2021
- “St. Anthony Catholic School: A Fresh Look at Catholic Education,” Patricia L. Ramirez, San Antonio Charter Moms, March 30, 2021
Read More About Teacher Tales
- “Bonnie Salas Is a Parent and Leader at Brooks Academy of Science and Engineering,” Bonnie Salas, San Antonio Charter Moms, January 26, 2022
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- “Going Back to Where It All Started: Taylor Goldston, SST Graduate and Teacher,” Taylor Goldston, San Antonio Charter Moms, November 21, 2021
- “Nature-Based Education Helps Students Grow After the Pandemic,” Amanda McMickle, San Antonio Charter Moms, June 15, 2021
- “Building Agency: How Akeem Brown Is Helping Kids See Their Strengths at Essence Prep,” San Antonio Charter Moms, June 8, 2021
- “Teacher Tales: ‘You Are My Why’ — Abel F. De Leon at the School of Science and Technology,” Abel F. De Leon, San Antonio Charter Moms, November 4, 2020
- “Teacher Tales: Jefferson High School International Baccalaureate World School in San Antonio ISD,” Ralf Halderman and Chris Stanley, San Antonio Charter Moms, November 18, 2020