Mrs. Rumpke, the social justice teacher teaching movements!

Lets get to know Mrs. Rumpke

by Emma Weisgarber , Reporter

At Central Kitsap High School then you’ve probably walked past Jenifer  Rumpke’s classroom on the second floor in room 2203. Rumpke currently teaches US History, Social Justice, and Women’s Studies. She has  been teaching since 1998 and started at a small private school in Hawaii where she taught the entire social studies department which included US History, Sociology, Civics, Freshman Study Skills Course, Career Mentorship Course, and Women’s Health and Fitness.

When Rumpke started teaching she had a vision to be the kind of high school teacher she never had; though her teachers were skilled, they did not get to know their students. Rumpke said she wants her students to know she is there for them, and she strives to know each student on a personal level.

Out of all the places Rumpke has taught she has been a teacher in Hawaii, Connecticut, California, and Germany; Hawaii was her favorite because the school was amazing with everything being focused on the students with a very collaborative environment.

“Hawaii makes everything nice,” Rumpke said. 

Rumpke said she also misses Connecticut because she got to coach field hockey there which was something she always wanted to do because she grew up playing that sport. 

“Coaching it was a great experience and something I really miss,” Rumpke said.

When Rumpke first came to Central Kitsap High school she was originally meant to teach US History and Ancient Civilizations but then she was assigned to teach half of the day at CK and the other half at Klahowya to teach sixth grade Language Arts and Social Studies. The second half of her day continued here at CK where she taught US History. 

“I’m not a certified language arts teacher,” said Rumpke. 

Rumpke was inspired to become a teacher for social justice after taking college courses that focused on the Civil Rights Movement. Rumpke said she found the topic to be inspiring. Before she and fellow department members designed the Social Justice course Rumpke said she always tried and mix those ideas into her daily classes. Fellow teacher Russell Schuchart suggested a course dedicated to Social Justice Movements. 

“I was thrilled to be able and take part in that,” said Rumpke 

As the only current  teacher for Social Justice Rumpke thinks the course is useful for the students of CK because it requires a lot of critical thinking skills to look at given movements and analyze the effectiveness of the strategies that they will use. Another reason Rumpke thinks the course is useful because she thinks its a necessary course, it can show that students can get involved and create a change, that there are unlimited ways to do that; from voting, financially supporting organizations, to being an activist out on the street, writing letters, texting, there’s so many things you can do to be active and make a positive impact 

“I feel everyone should feel empowered to make those changes,” said Rumpke. 

Rumpke said her long term goal for Social Justice is that it will be different from a normal history class and instead of a semester course it would be a year long course with the second half being a civic action project which would count as a civic credit.

Rumpke said the  biggest difference between Social Justice and another history course is in social justice students  have the opportunity to reflect on changes they would like to see and reflect on how those changes could happen based on understanding of other movements 

“That personal connection is not there in a normal history class,” said Rumpke. 

Even though Rumpke teaches Social Justice and loves it she does not believe it is more important than the information students learn in a traditional history class.

“If we don’t learn from our past we’re just going to make the same mistakes,” said Rumpke.  

With this comes all of the different factors that dove into our shared past as a country, as people are really important to understand in order to be successful citizens in a global environment now. The subjects you learn in a normal history class almost everyone knows now but what about the topics in social justice, how does someone know if they don’t take the class or see it on the internet? Some things yes, like the Montgomery bus boycott is one that everyone will learn in a traditional History class.There is a genuine effort from the Social Studies department to create a curriculum that is inclusive and representative of the diversity of students, so maybe in the future things said in social justice are more mainstream, said Rumpke. 

Next semester Rumpke is planning to teach Women’s Studies for the first time and is excited to teach it. Rumpke said she would also love to teach a class on constitutional laws, American history or American film but she would not be excited if asked to teach World history.

The hardest part of last year for Rumpke was the pandemic and not being able to have that personal connection with her students. Students love class discussions but over google meets  everyone was quiet and it was really difficult to make a positive connection with the students, said Rumpke. Rumpke said she hopes that whoever joins her Social Justice class is in the class for just a history credit, and if they are that they get interested and get involved in the class by the end. As finished being interviewed, Rumpke got comfy back at her desk and worked on her papers.