Director, Partnerships and Initiatives
M.S.Ed. - Northern Illinois University, 2019
B.A. - Michigan State University, 2012
Jenni Dickens develops and supports outreach and community partnership initiatives within the Educational Studies Department. She works closely on Monmouth’s Rural Education Initiatives (REDI) and its connections with the Rural Schools Collaborative, Teton Science Schools, and other national and regional partners. Jenni also serves as a consultant for English as a second language and bilingual education at the local school district.
As a Brazilian native, Illinois transplant with Finnish roots, I understand the importance of place and identity. As a rural teacher, I came to recognize the power education has to strengthen both. I taught Kindergarten for several years to English learners, who make up 20% of our local school district. A multilingual learner myself, I was passionate about ensuring all students could access the many opportunities found in our schools and communities. I quickly learned what an incredible support network rural areas have to offer. Community partners like retired teachers, local business owners, and students’ families all helped me find creative ways to bring the assets of our small, rural area to our classroom – in effect, they supported place-based education. As a result, my students got to engage meaningfully in their place as part of their learning and to develop the agency to make an impact on their place in return.
Although I am no longer in the classroom, I care deeply about continuing this work. I am grateful for Monmouth College’s commitment to our rural region, and for the new opportunities I have to work with visionary educators to elevate rural communities through place-based education.
I am interested in examining the use of instructional tools and practices that support diverse learners in small, rural communities. In particular, I am interested in the pedagogical affordances of game-based learning; the inclusion of culturally and linguistically responsive texts in literacy classrooms; place-based curricular design; and the role of instructional technology in the language development of multilingual learners.