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Sense of Humor in the Classroom

When Jennifer Lombard goes into the first-grade classroom at P.S. 87 where she is a student teacher, she carries with her one thing she used in her previous careers as a writer and actress: her sense of humor.

TAKE MY TEACHER, PLEASE!

Writer Finds New Uses for Sense of Humor In New York City Classroom

When Jennifer Lombard goes into the first-grade classroom at P.S. 87 where she is a student teacher, she carries with her one thing she used in her previous careers as a writer and actress: her sense of humor.

"The best teachers I have worked with have had that in common, a sense of humor," says Lombard, who is studying for her master's degree in curriculum and teaching at Teachers College, Columbia University. "If you are teaching in a large system like New York City's, I would think a sense of humor is almost a necessity."

Lombard, a graduate of New York City public schools, wants to continue to teach in the City's system. "I grew up in the public schools," she explained, "and I want to contribute what I can to public education."

But, even with her well-honed knowledge of humor, what first-graders find funny often befuddles her. "You can't predict what will make them laugh," Lombard said. "One day, I read a letter in French to them and the sound of the French language made them roar."

Lombard prefers humor that "makes children use their minds, such as puns, riddles and poetry." The poetry of Shel Silverstein, for example, is something she likes to share.

Lombard's more adult humor is reflected in her forthcoming book, How to Stay Single Forever, which is scheduled to be published by Warner Books this fall.

The book is a compilation of advice on how to make sure you'll never find a mate, but, ironically, soon after she finished writing the tome, Lombard found a fella.

"I gave him the book to read in draft form," Lombard said, "and I thought I'd never see him again. But he came back."

The 33-year-old Lombard is turning to teaching as a second career, after spending the last decade as a writer for television networks such as HA! (now Comedy Central) and Nickelodeon.

Her family has been in the theatre for three generations. Her grandfather, Milton Watson, performed on stage with such stars as the Marx Brothers, W. C. Fields and Mae West, and both of her parents were actors.

Although the Swarthmore College graduate was a staff writer in 1990 for the HA! series, "Afterdrive," and she has written numerous film treatments and two screenplays, Lombard says her writing career has rarely given her a long-term, liveable wage.

"I have always had to take survival jobs," Lombard said. "Finally, I got tired of working at things that did not give me anything back but some money. I have always dreamed of being a teacher, so I decided to start this new career."

In her student-teaching experience, Lombard has found teaching to be as exhilarating as she thought it would be, but it is also demanding. "Teaching requires all of my resources," she said, "but it also taps into my creativity. At the end of the day, I am often exhausted but I'm never bored."

In addition to her student teaching, Lombard holds a special Teachers College internship at P.S. 87. The school on the Upper West Side is one of Teachers College's "Professional Development Schools," and, in her internship, Lombard is helping to try out new methods for teacher preparation.

Her master's project is the development of a first-grade curriculum on the subject of family. In addition to her television writing, Lombard has also written several plays that have been produced off-off-Broadway. One of those dramatic pieces was Dakota Huss: Female Superhero, a one-woman show that Lombard performed herself in three separate productions.

Is there a little of Dakota Huss in Jennifer Lombard?

Speaking at the end of one of those tiring, teaching days, Lombard said, "I wish I were more like her. She's all-powerful."

Teachers College, a graduate school devoted to education across the lifespan and both in and out of the classroom, is an affiliate of Columbia University but retains its legal and financial independence. Some 4,500 students are currently studying for master's and doctoral degrees. In the 1996 survey conducted by the staff of U.S. News & World Report, Teachers College was ranked as the number-one graduate school of education in America.

Published Tuesday, Sep. 18, 2001

Sense of Humor in the Classroom

TAKE MY TEACHER, PLEASE!

Writer Finds New Uses for Sense of Humor In New York City Classroom

When Jennifer Lombard goes into the first-grade classroom at P.S. 87 where she is a student teacher, she carries with her one thing she used in her previous careers as a writer and actress: her sense of humor.

"The best teachers I have worked with have had that in common, a sense of humor," says Lombard, who is studying for her master's degree in curriculum and teaching at Teachers College, Columbia University. "If you are teaching in a large system like New York City's, I would think a sense of humor is almost a necessity."

Lombard, a graduate of New York City public schools, wants to continue to teach in the City's system. "I grew up in the public schools," she explained, "and I want to contribute what I can to public education."

But, even with her well-honed knowledge of humor, what first-graders find funny often befuddles her. "You can't predict what will make them laugh," Lombard said. "One day, I read a letter in French to them and the sound of the French language made them roar."

Lombard prefers humor that "makes children use their minds, such as puns, riddles and poetry." The poetry of Shel Silverstein, for example, is something she likes to share.

Lombard's more adult humor is reflected in her forthcoming book, How to Stay Single Forever, which is scheduled to be published by Warner Books this fall.

The book is a compilation of advice on how to make sure you'll never find a mate, but, ironically, soon after she finished writing the tome, Lombard found a fella.

"I gave him the book to read in draft form," Lombard said, "and I thought I'd never see him again. But he came back."

The 33-year-old Lombard is turning to teaching as a second career, after spending the last decade as a writer for television networks such as HA! (now Comedy Central) and Nickelodeon.

Her family has been in the theatre for three generations. Her grandfather, Milton Watson, performed on stage with such stars as the Marx Brothers, W. C. Fields and Mae West, and both of her parents were actors.

Although the Swarthmore College graduate was a staff writer in 1990 for the HA! series, "Afterdrive," and she has written numerous film treatments and two screenplays, Lombard says her writing career has rarely given her a long-term, liveable wage.

"I have always had to take survival jobs," Lombard said. "Finally, I got tired of working at things that did not give me anything back but some money. I have always dreamed of being a teacher, so I decided to start this new career."

In her student-teaching experience, Lombard has found teaching to be as exhilarating as she thought it would be, but it is also demanding. "Teaching requires all of my resources," she said, "but it also taps into my creativity. At the end of the day, I am often exhausted but I'm never bored."

In addition to her student teaching, Lombard holds a special Teachers College internship at P.S. 87. The school on the Upper West Side is one of Teachers College's "Professional Development Schools," and, in her internship, Lombard is helping to try out new methods for teacher preparation.

Her master's project is the development of a first-grade curriculum on the subject of family. In addition to her television writing, Lombard has also written several plays that have been produced off-off-Broadway. One of those dramatic pieces was Dakota Huss: Female Superhero, a one-woman show that Lombard performed herself in three separate productions.

Is there a little of Dakota Huss in Jennifer Lombard?

Speaking at the end of one of those tiring, teaching days, Lombard said, "I wish I were more like her. She's all-powerful."

Teachers College, a graduate school devoted to education across the lifespan and both in and out of the classroom, is an affiliate of Columbia University but retains its legal and financial independence. Some 4,500 students are currently studying for master's and doctoral degrees. In the 1996 survey conducted by the staff of U.S. News & World Report, Teachers College was ranked as the number-one graduate school of education in America.

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