On the upper campus, you are most likely to find Jenny Bomgardner in the lab, blowing things up (in the name of science, of course), sitting in a cardboard chair (made by a physics student), or drinking coffee.
Jenny graduated from NC State University in 2006 with a major in physics and a minor in Japanese, and in the “I just graduated from college and I’m applying everywhere” phase, GRACE was one of the places she applied. Two years later, she was working at Wachovia Mortgage and decided she would be willing to accept a much lower salary if it would mean doing what God wanted her to do. The very next day, she received a call from GRACE as her resume had “somehow” surfaced after two years on file. As Jenny explains it, “Coincidence? I think not! God literally called me to GRACE!” Since coming to GRACE, Jenny has earned her Master of Arts in teaching from Liberty University as well as her NC, VA, and ACSI teaching licenses for secondary math and science.
When asked to share what she enjoys most about teaching, she replied, “I love teaching teenagers because they’re questioning what they’ve been told all of their lives and are really looking for the truth of things while also trying to figure out who God wants them to become.” Jenny considers it a privilege to lend “even one iota” of wisdom to them figuring out the answers to their questions. In her own words, “it’s really cool” to be part of the process.” In fact, the relationships that she develops with her students are the most important and rewarding part of teaching; getting to teach subjects she loves is, “icing on the cake.”
Jenny wants students to get that religion is about developing your relationship with God and not about acting better than you are. She also wants them to understand that you can work hard and have fun at the same time, that money won’t make you happy (even if you have a lot), and that people are more important than things. She encourages her students to develop and work with the gifts God has given them and promises them that using their gifts the way God intended will give them the most joy!
Jenny grew up in Florida as an only child and spent part of almost every day at the beach. She’s always had pets – sometimes as many as four or five dogs at a time as her stepmom showed and later fostered Doberman Pincers. Currently Jenny and her husband, Matt, are proud parents to a dog named Snickers and a Guinea Pig named Maggie and expecting to add a human to that mixture soon.
You might think that someone who majored in physics in college would only be interested in math/science things, but during her own high school years, Jenny was very involved in theatre behind the scenes. She recalls that in the final show she worked on, The Sound of Music she was both stage managing and in charge of set design. She admits that it was a bit of an over-commitment, but it was one of the most enjoyable things she recalls having ever done. She had, at that point, decided that she wasn’t willing to do technical theatre for a living because of the requirement to work nights and weekends. In that final show, she remembers soaking in every moment. As it turned out, these skills did not go completely unused in college as she got hired (and paid!) to do technical work at Stewart Theatre at NCSU while she was enrolled as a student. Even though it wasn’t much, she had fun designing and running lights for a few more years.
Jenny would not describe herself as a sports enthusiast in the traditional sense of the word, but she does really enjoy watching esports (that’s right, video game competitions) and is more of a fan of esports teams than she will ever be of any football or hockey team. She even went to watch an MLG tournament in Raleigh and got pictures with her favorite esports players at the time!
As a couple, Jenny and Matt support the Raleigh Rescue Mission as they feel strongly called to support those in their own city who need food and shelter. Knowing that their contributions go straight to feeding hungry people is important to them. When asked to quote her favorite Bible verse, Jenny quoted Zechariah 8:16-17, “Fear not; These are the things that you shall do: Speak the truth to one another; render in your gates judgements that are true and make for peace, do not devise evil in your hearts against one another and love no false oath.” Jenny explains that she leans on these verses as a simple summary of what God expects and it’s comforting when it seems like there are many expectations of her from many different sources.