Getting to Know Ms. Olson


Sophie Stoddart, Reporter

Before going to college and pursuing her career as a teacher, Jennifer Olson grew up in Palos Verdes. She went to Silverspur Elementary School, PVIS, and then Peninsula High School when it was the only high school on the hill. 

Olson shared that she had a great experience and education growing up on the hill, and feels grateful to have been raised here. 

In school, Olson involved herself in a lot of different activities. She was a writer for the school newspaper in both high school and college. She did CSF, was Activities Director in ASB and was a part of a Christian club. 

After being a student in PVPUSD, she went on to get her Bachelor’s degree (BA) in English at UCLA. After receiving her BA, she participated in a program where she studied theology in Maryland for a year. She completed her Masters in Education at Stanford University, through a twelve month program where she got both her masters and credentials. 

She then taught at Peninsula for four years before transferring to PVHS where she has been teaching for thirteen years.

Olson has kept a journal for almost her entire life. In elementary school, she had developed an interest in writing. 

In fourth grade, Olson’s teacher, Mr. Popperwell would assign spelling stories. “He would give us our spelling words and we would have to come up with a story. Most kids did the bare minimum, but I looked forward to the spelling stories so much. I would go home and write these mini novels, like little short stories and I’d get really excited. I had maybe ten page long stories.” 

Her teacher deeply encouraged her to continue writing. 

Olson’s creative writing teacher at Peninsula High, Ms. Yoshahara, made all of her students submit their writing to get published. Olson ended up submitting a short story of hers to “Chicken Noodle Soup for the Soul,” and they accepted it. However, she does not write as much anymore because she is so busy with teaching and taking care of her family. 

When Olson was younger, she thought she wanted to be a journalist, and wrote for “The Daily Bruin” newspaper at UCLA, but realized the lifestyle was not the right fit for her. 

She also thought she wanted to be a lawyer like her father and did not figure out what she really wanted to do until she studied in Maryland and applied for the Stanford Teacher Education Program. 

Olson started teaching right away when she entered the program. 

“Right when I got in the classroom and started student teaching I just knew that I was going to be a teacher. I loved it. I loved being in the classroom, I loved teaching, I felt so much joy from it, and I thought ‘oh my gosh this is what I’m meant to do.’”

She hopes students will find comfort knowing you don’t have to have your whole future mapped out. 

“It’s hopeful because students always say ‘oh I don’t know what I want to do with my life yet,’ in college, I didn’t know until grad school. Hopefully that’s encouraging to students, that you might not know what [you] want to do right away, and people change careers too.”

Olson loves her job. She enjoys interacting with students and having class discussions. 

“ I love really great discussions in class. Like when we end up having a really great discussion, and they’re making me think about stuff that I’ve never thought about, especially books that I’ve read [so many times before].” 

Olson also loves knowing that she is making an impact on her students and their lives. 

“Obviously, it’s nice when you get encouragement from students and they say ‘you really helped me, I really learned in your class,’ because then it feels like I’m making a difference. It’s just really great.” 

Olson has just moved into a new house with her family. When asked about what she thinks the next chapter of her life will look like, she stated that she is excited to watch her kids grow up.

 “It sounds simple and probably not that exciting, but just watching my kids grow up, and being a part of that process is a big focus right now.” 

Olson also hopes to see more of the world in the future. “My husband and I would really like to travel at some point when the kids get older.” 

She also expressed interest in rediscovering old passions. “I would really like to write at some point too, but we’ll see when I have time for that.” 

Olson has advice for every high school student that she wishes she could have heard as a high schooler. “I would definitely tell myself to relax and not stress as much as I stressed out. I think that I stressed out a lot in high school and everything felt really overwhelming. I felt like I had to get really good grades and go to the best schools, and while that’s all really important, I think I would have told myself that even if I don’t stress as much, life will still be okay.”