MET with success

MET with success

Alumna Jennifer Long charts her passion for teaching, from Chilliwack all the way to Antarctica.

September 2014 | Video 03:21

Jennifer Long has been a Canadian explorer since childhood.

“It’s just around the next corner,” her father, Robert Long, would always promise during hikes and paddling excursions. By the time Jennifer was fifteen, the ‘next corner’ was 500 kilometres away, on a father-daughter cycling trip from Jasper to Calgary.

“It’s all part of the adventure.”

Robert Long, Jennifer’s father

Thanks to Robert’s mentorship, Jennifer understood early in life that ‘it’ was the journey itself. And curiosity was fuel for the journey.

Since her earlier days of discovery, Jennifer has travelled around the planet, voyaging with groups of students as far as China and Mexico. Her most recent journey took her across the stage at UBC’s Chan Centre to accept her Master of Educational Technology (MET) degree.

Through the MET program, Jennifer learned to integrate technologies into lessons about planet Earth in a balanced way, choosing her teaching tools wisely. In the science lab at Sardis Secondary in Chilliwack, she sometimes uses animations to demonstrate abstract concepts like photosynthesis. Most of the time she draws on her own experiences at home and in the wild, encouraging her students to do the same.

Partway through her master’s program, Jennifer moved to the cloud forests of Costa Rica to teach at a high school with no phones or computers. Together with her students, she practiced the fundamentals of hands-on learning with the resources that were naturally present. After two years, Jennifer returned home with unparalleled expertise in geoliteracy and ecotourism, and a finely honed skill for teaching teens to climb strangler figs.

During the MET program, Jennifer learned about the First Nations way of knowing, and the interconnectedness among people and the natural world. While she used technology to connect online with colleagues from many countries, she also formed a study group with students in her home community.

Jennifer likes to remind her students that learning happens everywhere. She’s been known to bring the laboratory into the wild, and to bring her students on expeditions into the realms of imagination. Whether she’s teaching by the book, or telling a story about fighting off army ants in her home, Jennifer’s lessons reveal how these diverse spaces can intersect for curious learners.

“Education is just as much about forming relationships with students
as it is the content that we teach them.”

Jennifer Long, MET program graduate

Last December, Jennifer’s adventuresome spirit inspired her to apply for a National Geographic Grosvenor Teacher Fellowship. Her ability to conceptualize learning environments in everyday and extraordinary situations shone through, and she was one of 25 teachers chosen from among 1,300 applicants.

This winter, Jennifer will travel to Antarctica with two other teachers and a team of Lindblad naturalists and National Geographic photographers. Though the continent of Antarctica is a pristine environment, undeveloped by humans, its western shelf is in the process of collapsing. During her expedition, Jennifer will learn about this unique polar ecosystem, experiencing firsthand the impacts of humanity’s influence on the far reaches of our planet. She will share the adventure with her students long into the future, through data and undersea dive footage collected at the South Pole.

“It’s all part of the adventure,” is the motto Robert Long has exemplified for his daughter. Now Jennifer Long is helping new generations of explorers to discover the same wisdom for themselves.

She hopes her experience will inspire students to value the natural world, and to share her dream of preserving the world for everyone.

Follow Jennifer’s path to success

Video by Alpha Lam. Story by Jenny van Enckevort.