Jennifer Arzola-Kwiatkowski, co-founder of EdgED Consulting, was born and raised in Valparaiso, Indiana. Her love of, and work in education has given her the opportunity to affect many people's lives, and she has chosen to continue making an impact through her work.
Arzola-Kwiatkowski discovered her love of teaching when she was only 16. Given the opportunity to attend a conference with her high school student council, she heard the Indiana Teacher of the Year speak. During his speech about teaching, she felt a connection to it and immediately knew what she wanted to do with the rest of her life.
“When he spoke about being a teacher, it just really resonated with me,” Arzola-Kwiatkowski said. “I knew in that instant that I wanted to be a teacher.”
That instant of realization put her on the path to earning her Bachelor's Degree in Education and English from Indiana University-Bloomington. While there, she also attained an endorsement that allowed her to teach English language learners, an endorsement that is incredibly important as more immigrants come to the area.
“Throughout the state, the number of students learning to speak English is growing,” Arzola-Kwiatkowski stated.
Since her education at IU, she’s also gained graduate degrees from Valparaiso University and Indiana Wesleyan.
When Arzola-Kwiatkowski graduated from IU-Bloomington in 2000, she began teaching English at Lake Central High School and English language learners of all grades. She taught there for four years before moving to the Washington Township High School where she continued to teach those two subjects. She has also worked as an adjunct professor at Ivy Tech Community college and Purdue North Central, adding even more to her impressive education background.
Leaving teaching was a difficult decision, but one that led to many other opportunities for her. After teaching for 15 years, she knew she wanted to get into leadership and looked into becoming a building principal and other roles. She was then presented with the opportunity to work remotely for the Indiana Department of Education and decided it would be a great option to pursue.
“It was a wonderful opportunity to meet lots of people throughout the state and just learn a lot,” Arzola-Kwiatkowski said.
Arzola-Kwiatkowski spent time with the Indiana Department of Education helping schools improve their systems. However, she wanted to focus more on the students and improving their experiences in school, something that was difficult to do while working for the state. This led her to co-found EdgED Consulting.
“My partner and I had always said we wanted to go out on our own so that we could focus as much as possible on the students, and that’s what we get to do now,” she said. “We’re supporting schools and just trying to improve student achievement.”
The business works with schools and districts to discover how they can help their students grow. They also look into ways to improve the programs provided in school districts, as well as how to enhance the lives of the teachers and principals involved. They advocate student achievement and growth through examining data from the schools.
“Schools have a lot going on and sometimes it's nice to get an outside set of eyes. We use their data and see how they could make things easier or how they can better utilize their resources and funds,” she said.
In her spare time, Arzola-Kwiatkowski enjoys spending time with her family and friends. She has two daughters, ages 4 and 10. She loves living in Valparaiso because of the large number of events it has to offer and its proximity to Chicago. She also enjoys attending events in downtown Valparaiso as well as visiting the Dunes.