It took a while for Jennifer Litzenberger to find her home as a teacher in Ohio County Schools.
She began her career in 1996 as an elementary teacher at Warwood School where she spent a year. From there, she served at Triadelphia Middle School. She’s served twice at Elm Grove Elementary School and twice at Middle Creek Elementary School, and each of those tenures lasted more than a year.
She really can’t remember in exactly what years she served at which schools. But, since the start of the 2007-2008 school year, she’s taught at the school that has brought her all of the professional satisfaction she hoped to achieve since the start of her career.
West Liberty Elementary School means a lot to Litzenberger. After a decade as the school’s kindergarten teacher, she now hopes to end her career there. Litzenberger speaks highly of the school’s teachers, staff members and parents. Most importantly, she could talk all day about her students and what they mean to her.
“My first West Liberty kindergarten students are now freshmen at Wheeling Park High School,” she said. “That’s hard for me to believe, because I used to watch them dress up and put on costumes for play time. It’s so awesome to see them today. I hope they remember kindergarten fondly, and I hope they have great memories of West Liberty Elementary School.”
Litzenberger is an Ohio County Schools legacy. Her father, Kenneth Cover, retired after a teaching career at Warwood School. Her mother, Barb Cover, was a teacher at West Liberty Elementary School. In fact, Barb Cover’s career in Ohio County Schools was ending in retirement from West Liberty Elementary School just as Litzenberger was beginning her tenure there.
“I have the room right next to her old room,” Litzenberger said. “I was moving in as she was moving out.”
Litzenberger is a 1990 graduate of Brooke High School. She earned her bachelor’s degree in elementary education from West Virginia Wesleyan College in 1994, and she earned her master’s degree in reading from West Virginia University in 2002.
Not only were Litzenberger’s parents educators, her aunt, Joanna Cover, was a teacher at Wheeling Park High School. Despite her pedigree, she scoffed at becoming a teacher herself.
“I didn’t want it at all,” Litzenberger said. “Education was all they talked about, and I didn’t want any part of it. I wanted to do something else.”
As her high school graduation neared, Litzenberger hoped to be a journalism major in college. Then, she fell in love with West Virginia Wesleyan College upon a visit to the school’s campus. Litzenberger knew that Wesleyan was where she would further her education, but there was a problem.
“Weslyan didn’t offer a journalism major,” she said. “I knew I was going to go there because it was just so beautiful, so I majored in education.”
Litzenberger now knows that she was meant to be a teacher. West Liberty Elementary School Principal Stacy Greer said her school and her students now benefit from Litzenberger’s realization.
“Mrs. Litzenberger has a passion for making lessons come alive,” she said. “Often when I visit, I end up joining in for a counting dance or alphabet spin and jump with the little ones. With every child in her classroom, she nurtures their sense of wonder and encourages them to become risk takers and mess makers.”
Litzenberger believes her students feel the way she does about West Liberty Elementary School. They often tell her “today is the best day ever.” Litzenberger said there have been “13 best days ever” so far this school year. Recently, a West Liberty kindergarten student said something to Litzenberger at the end of the school day that she may never forget.
“He said ‘I hope tonight goes fast because I can’t wait to be here tomorrow,’” she said. “It made my heart smile.”
West Liberty Elementary School teacher Jennifer Litzenberger is pictured with her students Coalton Lemasters and Lily Tennant.