It takes a big heart to shape little minds, and no words ring more true for our outstanding Lower School art teacher, Jenine Mas. From as early as she can remember, Mas knew that she wanted to be an educator. As a young child, she dressed up as a teacher for the beloved Career Day, emulating her own fourth grade teacher who was her inspiration and mentor. Summers were spent volunteering in her classroom and assisting on teacher workdays. She gathered an abundance of experience and guidance, and over the years Mas’ love for the classroom grew even deeper. When she started college, there was no question about what she wanted to do with her future… teach.
Mas’ drive and passion as an educator led her to NSU University School in 2010. In addition to her current position as one of our Lower School art teachers, she is also the team leader for her department, and founded the fifth grade legacy gift project, producing beautiful student-led works of art around the school for years to come. Mas instills a love of art into all students by creating projects that encompass ideas students can relate to or enjoy. She finds the students' interests and encourages them to find their creativity in what brings them joy. She breaks projects down into the smallest of parts, fostering confidence for even the most skeptical of artists to find success. Her students learn to believe in themselves as artists and feel empowered by their abilities.
Mas has made a difference in the lives of so many children, one of the greatest impacts she could make in her field. She speaks to her students as if they are her own children and encourages them to take up art as an extracurricular or even just as a calming leisure activity, which makes her feel great about what she does. Mas sees her role as an educator reflected in many areas of her life... always teaching and always learning. In her spare time, Mas enjoys drawing, crafting, and creating art for family and friends. However, her favorite way to spend time is with her family.
Get to know Mas:
Describe your teaching style.
I like to think that I am an advocate of differentiating for my students. My teaching approach is to learn each student’s unique style and use it to drive instruction. I am able to mold myself to meet each child’s needs as best as possible. I like to encourage students by finding their strengths and helping them work through learning hurdles.
So far in your career, what do you consider to be your greatest achievement?
One of my greatest achievements is when students come back to visit and tell me what they remember most about art class. I can feel an impact was made when they remembered something I said to them or something I taught them years prior. It makes me realize; they are always truly listening and learning.
What do you enjoy most about your work?
I love when students finish a piece of artwork and are beaming with pride! Also, when students tell me that years later their artwork is still hanging in the playroom or family room, it makes my heart feel so full! I enjoy helping coworkers with big projects and beautifying bare walls as well.
What moment in your time teaching at NSU University School stands out as the most memorable?
Creating a fifth grade legacy gift project has made me challenge myself as an artist and an educator. The students create a collaborative piece of work that is displayed for years to come, providing a wonderful sense of community within our school family. Fifth grade students and coworkers always look forward to seeing what will come next! Students can come back to the Lower School to reminisce about their fifth grade works of art. Additionally, I would say that I have extremely fond memories of going back into the classroom to teach second grade during the COVID-19 pandemic – it was a time that I will never forget. That class of students will always hold a special place in my heart.
What is your favorite thing about teaching at NSU University School?
My favorite thing about teaching at USchool is that everyone grows together in our community. You get to know the families and you build relationships alongside them. We have so many events throughout the year that allow for family participation and it’s a great time to get to know each other. At USchool, each student is a valued and important part of our school community. Teachers work hard to instill core values in our students, along with a love of learning that will help their future successes.