A Story of ... A Passion For The Power of Words

Amador's Jennifer Moirao has a passion for the written word
Rich Boschetti, DPIE Academy Director
February 20, 2020

Jennifer Moirao, Amador Elementary Teacher

When you meet Jennifer Moirao it’s hard to believe that this young educator has been teaching for 12 years already. She is passionate about her work, dedicated to her job teaching third grade at Amador Elementary and still very excited about being a newlywed.  When you speak with her about her career, its obvious that she has a passion for life and is enthusiastic about teaching.   

Jennifer came to Amador from the Newark School District 5 years ago to help open Amador Elementary and was excited about the opportunity to teach 3rd grade. In her 12-year career, Jennifer has taught students in grades 2 – 6, so we asked her why she wanted to teach third grade.  Ms. Moirao said, “I believe third grade is a  great challenge, studies have shown 3rd grade is a pivotal year in a student’s education and I want to help make a difference in the lives of my students that will last a lifetime.” 

Jennifer comes by her love of teaching naturally.  Her mother was a teacher and worked in the Dublin School district most of her career before retiring and her father has been a teacher, principal and superintendent in several districts and still consults with school districts around the state. “My parents are the ones who developed my drive to become a teacher,” said Jennifer. I saw first-hand how they made such a positive impact on the students in their classrooms and in their schools and just as importantly, how they connected with their school community.  Seeing that connection and passion drove me to become a teacher. 

Jennifer has been offering courses in the DPIE After School Program since it was introduced at Amador four years ago.  She enthusiastically offers her “Writing Through the Genres course each session and changes the writing styles and emphasis in each course so that the program is always fresh and new for her students.  Her strategy is working! Her classes have quickly grown to be some of the most popular in the DPIE program and for the last three years her courses have filled in each session.  

How did you decide to teach writing courses as part of the DPIE After School Program?  What excites you and why are you passionate about teaching writing and how do you keep classes fresh for your students? 

One of the best things about offering courses in the DPIE program is that I get to meet kids outside of my own classroom who are part of the Amador community. I chose to teach writing because it is a fundamental way to express your ideas, your thoughts and to effectively communicate and share your personality with others.

Writing was hard for me when I was growing up. The hardest part was generating the ideas I wanted to share with others. My goal is to help students know and share their passions. In our regular classroom we focus on three parts of writing; narrative (story telling), information (non-fiction) and persuasive (opinion) and we emphasize structure.  In the DPIE program, I can focus on creativity and voice with my students.  Each session and every year, I change the assignments and activities.  Not only does it make it fun for the writers, but it gives me a challenge of finding new ways to engage my students.

What kinds of activities do your students do in your class, how do you manage to read what everyone writes and what magic do you have, that gets kids excited about writing at the end of the regular school day? 

The difference between writing in school and writing in my after school class is the type of feedback students receive. We do a lot of independent writing and when I go around the room and read their work, students can talk about why they wrote what they wrote and what they are trying to convey to their reader.  I give feedback about the “voice” they use in their writing and we talk about why that is important.  We do short grammar check-ins and students develop their skills at self, as well as peer editing. 

The biggest challenge with the after school writing is everyone completing their work within the given timeframe.  Because of that, we have students generating a lot of shorter pieces and this way we can really focus on developing their voice. 

After a long school day, it may seem like a writing class is just one more thing to do.  But when we start each class, we spend a few minutes talking about their day and that starts the reflection process, which sparks them to be creative and share their voice in what they write. I thoroughly enjoy reading what they share and getting to know the true story of who they are.

At the end of the 10 weeks, what are you hoping your students will take away from your class that will serve them in the future?  Just as importantly, what brings you back each session to teach another course? 

I want my students to have a better understanding of the power of writing, to use the proper forms of grammar, proper nouns, capitalization and more importantly, how to develop their voice. My hope is that students will ask themselves “who are my readers and how can I write to best convey my message. 

As a lifelong learner myself, I look at each class that I teach as the opportunity to improve on what I did before and to improve my skills as an educator as well.  I hope this comes through in my teaching in every course I teach.”

When asked if there was anything she wanted Amador families to know about her after school classes, Ms. Moirao said, “I want parents to understand that the best way to help their student improve their writing is for them to write.  I know it sounds like a cliche, but getting students to write their ideas down on paper will help them become better writers.” 

One thing we can be sure of, Jennifer Moirao has a love of teaching, a passion for words and a healthy respect for her students as she teaches, the power of words and helping students discover their voice and use that voice to share who they are.