SAN ANTONIO — With a new school year, KENS 5 returns to honoring the very best educators in our area.
This week’s EXCEL Award goes to Jennifer Breuer of Boerne ISD. Breuer spent 26 years as an educator including time teaching at Trinity University.
The decision would not only change her life but the future of high school students lucky enough to take her classes.
KENS 5 Anchor Sarah Forgany was at Champion High School where she presented Breuer with the EXCEL Award and a $1,000 check from partner Credit Human.
Coach Jennifer Breuer considers herself lucky, "It's like a front row seat to watching them grow and change. Not many people get that opportunity."
She reflects on the opportunity to share some of her students' most special high school memories like the times she led her Chargers Cross Country Team to victory, winning Two State Championships.
"You have to create an environment where the kids feel safe and it's that no one's judging them."
Her judgement-free zone extends far beyond the track at Boerne Champion High School.
"She's also a department chair for our CTE department,” said Principal Dr. Beto Hinojosa,” She leads and supports and mentors over 20 teachers on our campus, from agriculture to welding."
Day in and day out, she runs the highly successful Entrepreneurship and Business Incubator Program, teaching sophomores, juniors and seniors like Asher Van Buskirk and Valerie Miller how to think outside the box.
"We did a backpack stand, so it helps from not blocking hallways with backpacks falling over all the time" Buskirk said
Similar to the show Shark Tank, Breuer's students must come up with innovative business ideas, find a way to fund the project, present it in front of a crowd then pitch it in a contest- to a board made up of businesses with the winner getting thousands of dollars. In the process, they pair up with local businesses that help support them.
Hands-on experience that has no price tag. Breuer says students carry these lessons with them as they move on to college and their future careers.
"A couple of the kids went to college last fall and they took their idea with them to A&M and they've already created their LLC and their bank account,” Breuer recalled. “One is an engineer and one is in business. And so they're developing like a fidget spinner pen and they've got 100 prototypes.”
Some creations are even selling on Amazon right now.
As Breuer begins her 4th year teaching the Incubator program, Superintendent Dr. Thomas Price acknowledges she’s an asset to Boerne ISD, "I'm amazed what she does with her kids about failure and resiliency.”
Because failure, as Breuer teaches her students, is a stepping stone to success which is something Miller will never forget as she prepares to graduate high school this year.
"I failed tons and tons of times. She didn't give up on me. She just looked at me and said, Valerie, I know you can do it. You'll do it."
Miller is a bank teller and Buskirk now works at a financial marketing company, both crediting Breuer for helping them land the job.
Boerne ISD says the program helps students network with local businesses. They hope these kids return after graduating college to work within the community.