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Western Colorado's Selective University
Jennifer LaBombard-Daniels
The assistant professor of teacher education said that CMU’s student-centered mission drew her to the institution.

Faculty Profile: Jennifer LaBombard-Daniels

At Colorado Mesa University, faculty members take great pride in a close teacher-student relationship. That was the primary reason Jennifer LaBombard-Daniels, PhD, and her family moved from the Maryland area to Grand Junction in 2011. The assistant professor of teacher education said that CMU’s student-centered mission drew her to the institution.

“Many of the universities I’ve worked for … are research based, so the focus is not the teacher-student relationship,” she said.

LaBombard-Daniels began her teaching career by teaching science to fourth- and fifth-grade students. She went on to teach college students at Frostburg University, Shepherd University, Johns Hopkins University and Loyola University in Baltimore, Md. She taught sixth, seventh and eighth graders for five years, completed her doctorate in education at Minnesota’s Walden University and went back to teaching at the college level. She’s found that her experience in the classroom is one of the things that attracts students to her courses.

At CMU, LaBombard-Daniels teaches methods courses in elementary science, social studies, secondary sciences and other foundation courses. She also serves as advisor for the university’s student chapter of the National Science Teachers Association. Her methods classes are her favorite courses to teach because they remind her of the joy of encouraging young students to take a hands-on approach to learning about science. LaBombard-Daniels said she encourages her students to provide an experiential approach to science and math in their own teaching, enabling young children to have fun while learning.

She looks for hands-on learning opportunities for her college students, too. In her fifth year of teaching at Colorado Mesa, LaBombard-Daniels said one of the reasons her experience in the Grand Valley has been so rewarding is the opportunities available to students.

“It excites me that [CMU] has gone from a state school to something that’s nationally known,” she said. “The opportunities that I’ve been given here have been amazing. We’ve taken a group of students to Costa Rica, we’ve gone to Boston.”

LaBombard-Daniels has seen the benefits of engaging students in what they’re learning. “These students are so passionate about what they’re doing,” she said. “I love to see that. My students just blow me away here.”

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