Jodie Glenn grew up in Toms River, but she calls Bordentown her home.
It’s the place she started her career in education, where she met her husband. It’s where her children go to school, and now, it’s where she heads up the Community District Alliance, where she also worked as a summer camp counselor early on in her teaching career.
“I’ve been very fortunate,” Glenn said. “I’ve worked in Bordentown for 20 years. It was my first job fresh out of college, and I haven’t looked back since.”
Glenn took over for former CDA director Sandy Ewell when Ewell retired in September.
Glenn says she always wanted to be an educator. She remembers playing school as a child, handing out worksheets to her siblings and their neighborhood friends.
“There was something about school that I just really connected to,” Glenn said. “It really was never a question not to become a teacher. When I went into special education, it was just an opportunity to be able to help and support others. I guess I just never looked back.”
She graduated from The College of New Jersey in 1997, and her first job out of high school was in special education at Bordentown Regional Middle School (MacFarland Junior School, at the time). After her first year teaching, some colleagues invited her to work as a counselor at one of the CDA’s many summer camps.
Glenn had a hand in launching some of the CDA’s preteen programs and was part of the cheer leadership camp, as well as working as the parent supervisor of the before and after care programs.
“These are our kids, so you’re invested in them,” Glenn said. “You want to see them do well in the summer. You want to see them grow, learn things, because you’re getting them back in September, and so they really are your kids. I think a lot of our staff feel the same way, because we get to see them grow and then coming back every year, watching them when they came in as kindergartners and how they behaved versus learning some actual skills as leaders, leaving as sixth graders, it’s rewarding.”
She then went back to TCNJ to get a master’s in school counseling, and around the time she graduated, she got hired as a counselor at Bordentown Regional High School, where she worked until she got the CDA job last year. It’s also where she met her husband, Chris, a math teacher at the school. They currently live in Eastampton with their two children Christopher, 11, and Allie, 9. Both kids attend Bordentown schools.
‘The world we live in is tough, and it’s really tough for our teens and adolescents in particular. They are dealing with stressors that we’ve never had to deal with before.’
Glenn said she felt “very lucky” to be at the high school, where former and current principals Pat Lynch and Rob Walder gave her the freedom to start programs she was passionate about or get involved with community activities that interested her.
One program she is particularly proud of is Bordentown is on Point, which Glenn and the Positive Behavior Support in Schools staff launched several years ago.
“It recognizes students and staff for all the great things they do, and it tries to really encourage that positive attitude at the high school level and hopefully minimize behavioral consequences, problems that we experience,” she said.
Glenn has also coordinated class night, the day before graduation when seniors receive scholarships and awards from the school and community organizations. That gave her the opportunity to work with local groups like the Elks, Rotary, American Legion and sports leagues, which she said allowed her to expand her relationships beyond the schools while rewarding students.
“The Bordentown community is very special,” she said. “You have a lot of activist organizations, whether they’re through the churches, the municipalities, nonprofits. People really want to do good things in this community. They’re so diverse. They’re so historical. The people just really thrive helping one another. There is nothing better than watching a community organization help our kids. What our students learn from that and what they gain from that, it just works.”
The community, she says, is what’s kept her in Bordentown.
“Growing up in Toms River, it was so big,” she said. “Our high school was huge. There’s a lot of perks to that. A lot of resources and opportunities in a large town. But there’s something very special about Bordentown. I feel like it ties into the staff as well. Our staff is incredible. They’ve become the people that you celebrate with, the people that become your families, the people that your kids call aunt and uncle. I’ve been very fortunate to be a part of this community. As a school counselor, I ran some programs that enabled me to see other schools in the state. There’s no comparison, whether you’re in North Jersey, South Jersey, along the shore, Bordentown is a very special place.”
Glenn called her new CDA role a “dream opportunity.” She says she’s fortunate to work with the community and the school district, and not just in one school building. She’s excited to provide support to the administration, as well.
She says she had the perfect mentor in Ewell, too.
“When I think about goals, I have a few,” she said.”The first is to take this amazing platform that I’ve been given and just keep going with Sandy Ewell’s vision. I’m very lucky. She has done great work. To be able to take her platform and strengthen it and kind of put my strength into it, I’m fortunate.”
Glenn’s priorities include beefing up the district’s STEM offerings during the school year as well as in the CDA’s summer camps.
She also wants students to be aware of the “D’s” in life: death, divorce, depression, drugs, discrimination, disabilities, debt. It’s a technique she used as a counselor, and one she still finds helpful today. Glenn says she wants to use the CDA programs to provide students with tools to cope with those difficulties in positive ways, as apposed to self harm or self medicating.
“Themes like leadership, stress management, team building, diversity, social media safety, empathy, any of those ways that we can infuse that into our programs, that’s really important to me,” Glenn said. “For our kids, they deserve that, they need that.
“The world we live in is tough, and it’s really tough for our teens and adolescents in particular. They are dealing with stressors that we’ve never had to deal with before. Anything that our community and our school district can do to support them and to support their families, to provide resources, to provide opportunities so that they can be successful, that’s what we’re here for. My experience in counseling completely enmeshes with this job.”