Alumni Spotlight: Jeannemarie Hendershot, Class of ‘98
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Jeannemarie Hendershot, class of 1998, is the founding Director of Operations at Brownsville Collegiate Charter School and is actively making reforms to the NYCDOE by taking a lead role in the charter school movement.
While attending Townsend Harris High School, Hendershot, a former member of The Classic, thought she would pursue a career in journalism. Upon attending Loyola University in Maryland, she adjusted her focus to service instead. After graduating college, she joined “Teach For America,” where she spent three years teaching middle school in a low income district in East Los Angeles.
Hendershot, who had “the privilege of attending a top high school,” found the school system to be unfair because it did not provide students with equal opportunities to prepare for their future. She returned home to New York City with one goal: to make a difference. Hendershot founded Brownsville Collegiate Charter School in 2009 through Uncommon Schools, a nonprofit charter school that aids new schools for low-income students. For the past three years, she has been serving as the Associate Chief Operating Officer of Uncommon NYC, supporting operations at 12 middle schools in Brooklyn.
Jeannemarie Hendershot described her freshman year in high school quite miserably, claiming, “After my first year, I knew that I would never make it through high school if I didn’t get involved and make some friends. Getting involved made such a difference for me and made me enjoy being at school so much more.”
She expressed, “The thing that is hard is that students enter THHS and are used to being the top of their classes from wherever they attended school before, and for the first time, they experience failure. That’s really hard, but is honestly one of the best life and professional lessons you can learn.”
THHS influenced Hendershot’s motivation, helping her in her personal achievements. “I am part of an organization where I am constantly growing and being pushed to get better,” she remarked. As politicians criticize the charter school movement, it is essential that she maintains focus and continues to do what she believes is closing the wide educational achievement gap in New York City.
Jeannemarie addressed the current and future THHS students saying, “It’s hard! But stick with it—college is the time for fun and is so much better than high school. The hard work and focus now will yield so much later on.”