Unlike many of us, who take years to decide on a career path, Jennifer de Villiers knew from a young age she wanted to be a teacher.

She always enjoyed babysitting and spent time playing with younger kids, making her decision to be an education major in college a natural one.

Nearly 15 years after she started teaching in Horry County, de Villiers passion for education burns as brightly as ever. Her commitment to the job was almost certainly the driving force behind her third grade class at Ocean Bay Elementary School casting enough votes to make de Villiers Rockin’ Jump Myrtle Beach’s Teacher of the Month in December.

De Villiers received a $25 gift card for winning the Teacher of the Month award and everyone in her class got a free 30-minute jump pass. After reading our Q&A with her, it won’t be hard to figure out why de Villiers is so popular with her students.

Getting to know Jennifer de Villiers

How long have you been a teacher, overall and along the Grand Strand?

I have taught in the Myrtle Beach area since August of 2005. For eight years I taught in North Myrtle Beach and I’m going on seven years at Ocean Bay Elementary School (3rd grade).

What do you find most rewarding about being a teacher?

My favorite part about teaching and what is most rewarding, has to be when the students have worked so hard to understand a concept or skill, and then one day, the light bulb turns on. They look at me with excitement and have grasped the idea. The joy in their eyes and the self confidence that comes afterwards is what makes me want to continue to “grow” their brains.

Are you a lifelong resident of the area?

I am a transplant. I moved from Florence, S.C., in August of 2005. However, prior to that, I moved all around the East Coast with my family.

What was your reaction to winning the award?

Surprised and excited that the students wanted to recognize me.

What was the reaction of your class?

They were so happy and excited for me. They were pumped up that it was their teacher who was chosen.

Have you been to Rockin Jump before?

Yes. My kids and family love the experience that Rockin Jump has to offer. This place has helped to build self confidence in my personal children. We have been to a few birthday parties there and hope to plan one in the near future.

Outside of the classroom, what are some of your interests?

Some of my interests include keeping active and healthy. My family and I love to visit the mountains and go hiking. When at the beach, we love to play golf and take walks along the beach. As of right now, I am training for a half marathon (my first one-yikes!) in February. I also like to get workouts in to keep healthy at ISI Elite Training.