Happy Friday!! This week’s post features Jen Braverman, who I met in college, at The College of New Jersey. While attending TCNJ, I participated in performances of “The Vagina Monologues”. It was one of the most empowering experiences of my life, and if you have not seen a performance or read the stories, do so immediately! Do not let the title scare you away from it. The monologues are a collection of insights into different women’s experiences from all over the world at different points in their lives. Some of them are really funny, others are more serious, some are both, and no matter what emotion they elicit, they’re worth the read (for men and women, by the way). More importantly – back to Jen!! So, Jen was one of the directors my very first year performing in the monologues, and while she wasn’t my director specifically, I could see the amount of respect she received by anyone who knew her. Even if you don’t know Jen, once you hear about just a few of her accomplishments, you’ll see why.
Jen holds degrees in Art Education and a concentration Women’s and Gender Studies, and in addition to teaching art at Maple Shade High School, she is also an adjunct professor at The College of New Jersey, where she teaches classes in Women’s and Gender Studies. In 2013, she was awarded Burlington County Outstanding Woman of the Year in the Arts. She was also named one of Burlington County’s Inaugural class of 40 under 40 community leaders. She was Burlington County’s Teacher of the Year. She’s an author, and had her artwork featured all over the east coast and abroad. She also holds a second degree black belt in Taekwondo. I mean, if you’re not impressed, get off my blog. Jen is pretty awesome to say the least. 

Ms. Jennifer Braverman

1.   What would you list as your best quality?     

I have a very creative mind so I am able to see things from different perspectives.  This gives me great empathy and patience (especially in the classroom).  I also know the answers always fall in the gray between and nothing is just black and white.   

2.   When do you feel your strongest? 
About ten years ago I taught/practiced Taekwondo.  I loved teaching self defense, martial arts and I physically felt very strong.  However, I have not practiced or taught that in many years and nothing compares the strength I feel after completing a painting that has passion and purpose and was already complete in my mind.  As an artist, I constantly am motivated to turn my visions into literal tangible works, but sometimes other obligations get in the way.  When I can fully carry out my vision and do it justice, I feel strong and powerful.  Now, take that feeling and project that as a teacher, inspiring a student to create their vision, masterpiece, that is the ultimate strength and reward.

3.     On your most difficult days, what keeps you going? 
Coffee! Ask my students, they know I am always sipping on coffee or tea in the morning! But really, I feel self-motivated to always push myself to do more, inspire more, produce more, teach more so it’s the next goal, the next lesson, the next artivist movement I want to start that keeps me on my feet moving forward.

4.     What do you value the most in yourself and your family? 
Integrity, honesty and passion in most important in all aspects of my life, personal and professional.  

5.     So far, what have been your greatest accomplishment(s) in your career?
Recently, an article about my newest painting was featured on the cover of the courier post! That was very surreal and exciting.  I also have appreciated being the 2015-2016 Burlington County Teacher of the Year.  This allowed me to connect with other great educators and activists and do more on a  larger scale.  I also truly cherish helping my students getting accepted into various art schools.  I am very involved in the portfolio process and when one of my seniors (who I have had since seventh grade!) gets that acceptance letter, it’s the highlight of my career!

6.     What advice would you give to your younger self?
I would tell my younger self not to be afraid of being authentic in all aspects of my life, personal and professional.  I was an excessive worrier, and everything worked out, based on my great family, strong work ethic and dedication to the arts.  I would have relaxed more! 

7.   What do you look forward to the most?
I love seeing my students evolve.  I am in the rare situation in which I could have the same students grades 7-12 and then again at The College of New Jersey!  Teaching middle school, high school and college allows me to see and instruct different levels of personhood.  I enjoy seeing my students mature and find their voice (in the arts or elsewhere).  I also am looking forward to seeing where my newest art movement, “1line1world” goes.  I am working with students to create a worldwide movement in which we create/inspire 1 million continuous contour portraits.  Check it out and join us! http://1line1world.wixsite.com/1line1world 

8.     What has been your biggest failure, and how have you overcome it? 
There have been times, I have not trusted my instincts or got stuck on the smaller perspectives loosing priorities.  I have to readjust my lens on life and make sure I give the people most important to me my time and attention.  I do not have any large failures because I feel that we just keep going and make the best of what we have and shift our goals as necessary. Change is constant and it’s important to be an opportunist, yet genuine and understand that my vision isn’t the only vision.  

Check out Jen’s website http://www.jenniferbraverman.com 

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