Alumni Spotlight: Jennifer Chastain '96
So many of us come to Drury looking for something specific, only to discover brand new passions and strengths during our time here. Jennifer Chastain began her college career in hopes of becoming a doctor. She received a nice scholarship offer from Drury, but decided to try Kansas City’s medical school program instead. After attending that program for a semester, she decided that med school wasn’t the right path for her. She returned to Drury where she graduated with her Bachelor’s in Elementary Education in just three and a half years by taking advantage of the flexible summer course offerings.
Instilling a Love for Students
Of her experience at Drury, Jennifer was highly impressed by the time and attention professors dedicated to their students. She remembers Dr. Beech helping her with scheduling, personally registering her for a class that she was having trouble getting in to. "The extra attention was so wonderful."
Upon her return to Drury from KC, Jennifer needed help discovering what new path her career would take. She remembers sitting down in an introduction to education class, saying, <strong"Dr. Jayne White just hooked me. I loved her energy and her passion for kids. I said, ‘yeah, I want to do that.’" These professors made the experience of finding a new vocation easy and enjoyable, while also giving her authentic experiences to prepare her for her career. She credits the education department’s work with Boyd and Berry elementary schools as well as her exceptional student teaching experience for her supreme confidence and preparedness on day one of her education career.
Exemplary Educator, Passing on the Legacy
After graduating from Drury, Jennifer taught fifth through eighth grade at Springfield Catholic Schools for seven years. She had the opportunity to teach fifth and sixth grade in Nixa for four years, and after earning her Masters and Doctorate, she has been a principal for nine years. She is currently the principal at John Thomas School of Discovery in Nixa, the first STEM certified elementary school in the state of Missouri.
Jennifer has three beautiful daughters, and her oldest will come to Drury in the fall. "She came to the decision on her own. She felt like it was the best fit for her, and as her mom, I was absolutely thrilled!" She knows that it can be difficult to give back to Drury when paying back degrees, but encourages alumni to stay involved with the university and urge their own children to attend. "To me, that’s the ultimate giving back! Make it generational and pay it forward."
When Jennifer isn’t busy with the elementary school, she spends time outdoors, reading good books, or watching her daughters play varsity tennis. Jennifer is an exemplary alumna who has lived out the Drury values of incredible education and dedication to students.