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Former PE teacher-turned-administrator finds new home at California Elementary School

by Garrett Fuller | August 17, 2022 at 3:00 a.m.
Jennifer Juergensmeyer, principal at California Elementary School, poses for a photo Aug. 10, 2022, in her office at California Elementary School. (Democrat photo/Garrett Fuller)

A seventh grade physical education teacher sparked Jennifer Juergensmeyer's desire to become a teacher.

The California Elementary School principal, and Iberia native, said she had a sense she wanted to be an educator when she was young, but was uncertain what she wanted to teach. Then, a teacher helped shape her future.

"She was a physical education teacher and she was really awesome and I actually enjoy sports," Juergensmeyer said about how she learned teaching physical education was for her. "I was a part of all of the athletic teams, and enjoyed that a lot and thought I wanted to coach."

After studying to teach physical education and health, Juergensmeyer held numerous positions at small preschool through eighth grade before transitioning into administration. At California, she joins other new administrators in leading the district forward.

Juergensmeyer's path to completing her dream was far from smooth. She said she quit college before finishing her degree, and performed various jobs outside of education before deciding to return.

After receiving her degree in physical education, she taught PE and health in three small preschool-eighth grade schools near Trenton. Then she moved to Koeltztown and worked as an elementary PE and health teacher in the Maries County R-II School District in Belle.

While working in Belle, Juergensmeyer furthered her career by earning a master's degree in athletic administration and a specialist degree in education from William Woods University in Fulton. She is certified in physical education, K-12 administration and superintendency.

Juergensmeyer put her education to use by being a principal for the Higbee R-VIII School District. She would serve in that role for five years before accepting the job at California Elementary School.

She said her previous experience helped pave the way for her current position.

"Working as a principal for a pre-K through 12th-grade district where I was the only principal, which was the case in Higbee, allowed me to just learn to work with all types of teachers, all types of students, all types of staff and parents," Juergensmeyer said. "Everybody has their different expectations based on the grade level of their student or child."

Juergensmeyer said she is ready to dive into the school year.

She said her top goals in California are to get to know and immerse herself in the community, and to connect with students and teachers. Doing so, she said, would help build relationships.

"I've heard great things about California and the tradition they have of really supporting their students and supporting the education of their students, and community support is great," she added. "I'm just ready to dive in."

The new principal isn't the only change to the school: New classrooms and a new pickup and drop-off system are more changes affecting the school in the upcoming academic year.

Also new is a $9.5 million addition that connects the elementary school with the California Middle School building. While the middle school cafeteria and media center are both located in the addition, many classrooms it contains are for elementary students. Among 22 new instructional spaces in the addition are two pre-kindergarten classrooms with restrooms inside and six kindergarten classrooms with restrooms inside.

Also new in the addition is an approximately 2,500-square-foot multipurpose room. In addition to being used for indoor recess and activities, Juergensmeyer said the room will also be utilized for pickup and drop-off of students.

Parents will pick up and drop off students at the entrance to the new room near a new parking lot, which is located where two buildings once stood. Once dropped off, students will either stay inside the multipurpose room or go to the cafeteria for breakfast.

A new pickup spot isn't the only change for the process, Juergensmeyer said. The school will also use an app, KIDaccount, to track who picks up a student. According to its website, KIDaccount "is the only completely integrated daily school safety software that enables schools to easily account for the safety and security of every student, staff and visitor."

With the new system, school staff will check a parent's identification o see if their name is on an approved pickup list. After being checked in by a staff member, the system will send a notification to another staff member inside the multipurpose room to release the student.

"I know to begin with it's going to take us a few days to get the process down and get the parents used to that new process and what it looks like," Juergensmeyer said. She added the school's student resource officer wrote a letter to parents explaining the process in detail.

Information continues below photos.

  photo  Democrat photo/Garrett Fuller — FILE The front entrance to California Elementary School is seen July 8, 2022, in California.
  photo  Democrat photo/Garrett Fuller: A new multipurpose room is seen Aug. 5, 2022, in the new $9.5 million addition to the California Elementary and Middle school buildings. In addition to indoor recess and activities, the room will serve as a holding area for students after they are dropped off or waiting to be picked up.

A preview of the changes occurring elsewhere in the California R-1 School District in the upcoming year was published in a story titled “California schools welcome new leaders, CES/CMS addition.”

District calendar

Aug. 22; First day of school

Sept. 5; Labor Day, no school

Sept. 23; Homecoming, early out

Oct. 10; Columbus Day, no school for students

Oct. 21; End of first quarter

Oct. 27; CMS/CHS parent-teacher conferences

Nov. 1; CES/CHS parent-teacher conferences

Nov. 3; CES/CMS parent-teacher conferences

Nov. 4; No school (compensation day)

Nov. 23-27; Thanksgiving Break, no school

Dec. 21; Early out

Dec. 22-Jan. 2, 2023; Winter Break, no school

Jan. 3, 2023; No school for students

Jan. 16, 2023; Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, no school

Feb. 17, 2023; No school for students

Feb. 20, 2023; President’s Day, no school

March 17, 2023; No school for students

April 1-10, 2023; Spring Break, no school

April 28, 2023; No school for students

May 19, 2023; Last day of school, early out

Supply lists

Elementary school

California Elementary School is doing a school supply program for the 2022-23 where parents are able to buy all the needed supplies, except a backpack and water bottle, for $15 per student. The average school supply cost minus backpack and water bottle, per the program form, is $47 per student at Walmart. The supplies are purchased in bulk and shared among all students.

The supply program form is available on the California Elementary School website.

CES parents who wish to not participate in the program can purchase the following: two boxes of tissues, four dry-erase markers (Expo brand, chisel tip), four boxes of crayons (Crayola brand), two tubs of disinfectant wipes, 12 pencils (Ticonderoga brand), two rolls of paper towels, eight glue sticks (Elmer’s brand), one box of sandwich-size sealable bags (Ziploc brand), one box of gallon-size sealable bags (Ziploc brand), one bottle of hand sanitizer, one school box, one backpack and a water bottle.

Middle school

Middle school: Different grades at California Middle School have different supply requirements. All students require inexpensive earbuds or headphones, which can be purchased from the media center for $1.

Fifth-grade individual supplies: #2 pencils (Ticonderoga brand or mechanical), five folders with pockets and holes to fit in three-ring binder, four spiral-bound notebooks, three composition notebooks, a highlighter, a three-ring zippered binder or accordion organizer, a heavy duty pencil bag and red ink pin. Classroom supplies for fifth-graders: five- or 10-count markers (Crayola brand), a pack of colored pencils, two rolls of paper towels, a tub of disinfectant wipes, a pack of dry-erase markers (Expo brand), two large boxes of tissues, 10 glue sticks, a pair of student scissors and a bottle of hand sanitizer.

Sixth-grade individual supplies: a pack of paper (wide-ruled, loose-leaf), a basic calculator, a two-pocket folder with prongs, a three-ring zippered binder with accordion pockets or dividers, two large boxes of tissues, a heavy-duty pencil bag, two packs of #2 pencils (Ticonderoga brand), four composition notebooks, and a colored pen. Classroom supplies are divided by last name. Sixth-graders with last names starting with A-H will need to buy multi-pack dry erase markers (not thin); last names starting with I-M will need to buy hand sanitizer, and last names starting with N-Z will need to buy four-color, multi-pack highlighters.

Seventh-grade individual supplies: an accordion-style organizer with closure, a three-subject spiral notebook, four composition notebooks, a pack of pencils, a four-pack of dry erase markers, a dry erase marker eraser, a heavy-duty pencil bag, a multi-pack of highlighters, a pack of colored pencils, a pack of index cards and a Texas Instruments TI-30XIIs scientific calculator. Seventh-graders with last names beginning with A-M will need to purchase a three-pack of tissues, and N-Z a pack of construction paper.

Eighth-grade individual supplies: two packs of #2 pencils, three boxes of tissues; a Texas Instruments TI-30XIIs scientific calculator, a one-subject spiral notebook (college-bound), a pack of 3x5” ruled index cards, two red pens, two packs of college-ruled loose leaf paper, a two-pocket folder, a four-count set of dry erase markers, a highlighter that is not yellow and a three-ring binder (one-inch). Eighth-graders with a last name beginning with A-M must purchase a 10-pack of markers and one 12 fluid-ounce bottle of hand sanitizer, and N-Z must purchase a 12-pack of colored pencils and one tub of disinfectant wipes.

Sixth- through eighth-grade physical education students must also purchase a T-shirt, shorts, tennis shoes, socks, towels, soap and deodorant. Fifth-grade PE students will not be changing clothes but will need tennis shoes.

Seventh- and eighth-grade Pinto Express and sixth-grade Music Connections students will also need a ½-inch black three-ring binder, a box of tissues and a pencil.

Art students will need colored pencils for work outside of class.

Band students in sixth- through eighth-grades will need: reeds (clarinets and saxophones); swabs and cork grease (all woodwinds); mouthpiece brush and valve/slide oil (brass instruments); sticks and mallets (percussion instruments); #2 pencils; a method book (Essential Elements book #1 for sixth grade, book #2 for seventh grade and book #3 for eighth grade) purchased for $10-20 from the school (price depends on instrument); and a folding music stand. Fifth-grade band students will not need any band supplies.


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