Jenay Sharp Leach, Ph.D. '04

B.S. in Physics and General Science Secondary Education

What is your current job title and employer?
I am the K-12 Science Coordinator for Fairfax County Public Schools in Virigina. I supervise and coordinate all instructional programs managed in the school district’s central office. Fairfax County Public Schools is the 10th largest school division in the U.S., and we serve a diverse student population of more than 188,000 students.

What are some ways that the Department of Physics at Grove City College prepared you for your career?
I often reflect on the education that I received at Grove City College and feel grateful for my preparation in physics and physics instruction. I gained a solid conceptual understanding of physics that set me apart from my peers, and the opportunities that I had to learn about physics teaching by actually teaching in the classroom are unparalleled at the undergraduate level. I was able to save time and money by getting my teaching certification at Grove City College in just four years, and that enabled me to start my career earlier, while still fully equipped for the demands of a challenging work environment. The College instilled in me a desire to serve others, and this drives my passion to provide all students with equal access to a high quality science education.

How big of a role did the affordability of Grove City College play in your college decision making process?
Affordability was a factor in my decision, but the biggest factor in my decision was the Christian atmosphere. Not only is the tuition reasonable for a private school, but also I was very grateful to the scholarships I received from Grove City College. I would advise prospective students to apply and see what financial assistance you may receive, as this may factor into your decision making process.

How was your faith strengthened and perhaps even challenged during your time here?
I went to Grove City College because I wanted to be in an environment in which I could focus on my studies. I knew that the Christian atmosphere would enable me to focus by eliminating distractions, but what I didn’t know was how my faith would be strengthened by surrounding Christians who encouraged me and held me accountable.

How would you describe the level of academics you experienced during your time at Grove City College?
The academics at Grove City College were challenging because we were always being pushed to think at the highest levels of cognitive demand. We had to synthesize a lot of information and apply it to new and difficult situations.

What are some of the ways that professors ensure that students not only receive information but truly learn and understand how to apply that information?
The relationship between students and faculty is collegial, but what makes Grove City College unique is the degree to which the professors will go to ensure that students truly understand the content. I often recall a time when I could not understand a physics concept (thin film interference) and I went to my professor’s office hours. I will never forget sitting on the floor of his office for what seemed like hours while we worked through examples on white boards and he led me through a series of carefully designed questions until it finally “clicked!” That scenario occurred 16 years ago, but I can still explain the concept! I learned physics on a deeper level because the professors made the information meaningful by giving us opportunities to experience physics in multiple formats through multiple representations. We connected physics to the real world on a daily basis and could easily see the applications.

How did you hear about Grove City College?
My high school physics teacher is an alumnus.

What were some of the things you did during your free time either on or off campus?
I spent most of my free time studying physics, but I quickly learned to make it a social activity. I studied alone the first semester of my freshman year, but saw other groups of students collectively succeeding when they studied together. I started forming study groups in which we worked together to solve physics problems and talk through difficult concepts. Not only was it fun, it helped me to learn more.

I was very active in groups on campus. My freshman year, I joined just about every club and ministry possible to meet as many people as I could and try new things, and then settled into playing lacrosse, joining a bible study, serving as an Resident Assistant, going on a missions trip, coaching a local team, and involving myself in the Physics Department though a part-time job, physics club, and Two Books Society. I also spent a lot of time with my friends, shopping, eating out, going to bonfires and dances, studying together, and getting into as much mischief as we could in a small town. 

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