Jennifer Thrift | Movers & Shakers 2019 – Educators

Low college grades and a rocky first year teaching didn’t stop Jennifer Thrift from becoming a school librarian—they just pushed her to try harder. She strives to instill that same resilience in her students, so she was thrilled to learn about Breakout EDU, a start-up company that creates escape room kits for classrooms.

Jennifer Thrift

CURRENT POSITION

Teacher Librarian, Charles Pinckney Elementary, Charleston County School District, SC

DEGREE

Master’s + 30, Elementary and Early Childhood Education, College of Charleston, SC, 2003; MLIS, University of South Carolina, Columbia, 2002

FOLLOW

@thriftfamily; @librarianwithpizzazz (Instagram); pinckney.ccsdschools.com/directory/library_media_center; breakoutedu.com/about

Photo by Shanna Petry

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Breakout Success

Low college grades and a rocky first year teaching didn’t stop Jennifer Thrift from becoming a school librarian—they just pushed her to try harder. She strives to instill that same resilience in her students, so she was thrilled to learn about Breakout EDU, a start-up company that creates escape room kits for classrooms. Students solve puzzles to unlock a strongbox before time runs out. Thrift has watched kids take a wrong turn, but their excitement never wavers. “I am a firm believer that ‘FAIL’ stands for ‘First Attempt in Learning,’ ” she says. “If you don’t figure it out right away, keep trying.”

Thanks to Thrift’s passion, all 80 schools in the Charleston County School District have Breakout EDU kits, and she’s trained the district’s librarians and teachers, who serve about 50,000 students, on incorporating this dynamic activity into the classroom.

In addition to relying on the company’s kits, Thrift has written several games of her own that align with educational standards and teach creative problem-solving—on topics ranging from South Carolina geography to the Cold War.

“You can hear students reflecting at the end of a Breakout EDU game about what they would have done differently,” says Thrift’s nominator, Leanne Sheppard, principal of Charles Pinckney Elementary.

While many still believe that the school library should be a quiet environment, Thrift hopes these often boisterous games will shatter that perception. “Noise can be productive,” she says, “as long as [students] are working.”

 

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