New education prof is a linguist and NASCAR fan
Biola alumna Jenna Stein has returned to campus as an assistant professor with the School of Education to teach Methods of Linguistically Diverse Learners and Elementary Math and Science Methods.
Stein obtained her bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Bethel College in Minnesota and her master’s in applied linguistics from Biola.
Stein was born and lived until the age of 10 in Gloucester, Mass., which is known for being the location of the real life events of the film “The Perfect Storm.” From there, Stein eventually moved to St. Paul, Minn.
Her husband, David, works with the IT department on campus and together they have one daughter, Destiny, 12, of whom Stein said is “amazing -- a blessing beyond words.”
Outside of her job as a teacher, she also has two hobbies which she is highly passionate about.
“My two other passions besides teaching at Biola, of course, would definitely be the Red Sox and NASCAR Racing,” Stein said. “One of my bucket list things I did this summer was actually go to my first game at Fenway Park in Boston when I went back to visit family.”
As for NASCAR, Stein said she loves the teamwork and has always been interested in the auto mechanics of the sport.
“It’s so amazing to me how God kind of works the same way. He gives everybody a job, and if everybody is doing the job that God gave them to do. It works,” Stein said.
Aside from her interest in teaching, Stein has been involved in missions.
“All through college I was the interpreter for high school and college missions trips to Mexico from the St. Paul area,” she said. “So that was kind of an amazing thing to drive probably about 28-30 hours straight with 15 college kids taking turns driving straight through.”
After her husband graduated from seminary, the two of them spent some time teaching in New Delhi, India at the Hindi Medium Bible School. Instead of having Indian students learn about the Bible in English, the Steins wanted to offer the children an opportunity to learn in their own language.
“In India there are a lot of Bible schools but most of them are taught in English,” Stein said. “And so in order for people from the outlying areas to go to Bible school, they have to learn English first… . So, we wanted to give them a chance to learn the Bible and attend Bible school in Hindi so they wouldn’t have a language barrier.”
Stein originally became interested in the study of languages when she moved to St. Paul and was teased because of her New England accent. She said she changed her accent completely within three months.
“I don’t know if that had anything to do with my being able to listen and pick up on differences in languages. But then in high school I took grammar with Mrs. Johnson and I took Spanish for the first time,” she said. “Loved it, loved the fact that there was another way to say something and it means the same thing. It just intrigued me and so I decided that I wanted to go into linguistics.”
Stein spent six years working at a World Cultures and Languages Magnet School, and also worked four years in a newcomer program for children grades one through four.
“Newcomers are kids who are brand new to the United States from other countries. They speak absolutely no English,” said Stein.
After this, she began to work with staff development for teachers working in kindergarten through twelfth grade. She also worked six years as an adjunct professor at Biola. Her job now focuses on helping teachers gain tools they can use to specifically help English-learners in their classrooms.
“The kind of teacher training that I do is in relation to how to teach kids who don’t speak English or have limited English,” Stein said. “And so, I’m a firm believer in pragmatism. In other words, I want to give teachers hands on strategies to help them teach their English learners in their classroom.”