Pederson strengthens education and uplifts students


Spanish Teacher Janae Pederson.

In the 2021-2022 school year, Janae Pederson worked as a student teacher for language teachers Jenn Ndlovu and Darlene Lankenau. Students from Lankenau’s Spanish III class may remember her for her chocolate truffles and the Model U.N. project she engineered at the end of the year.

Now, she’s a full-fledged Spanish teacher in the Freshman Center.

“I’ve always known since I was a little kid that I wanted to be a teacher,” Pederson said. “I like being able to help people grow academically and mentally and kind of explore with them different things.”

She enjoys watching and helping her students with their Spanish and seeing how they apply their knowledge. With knowledge, though, often comes struggles and mistakes, and Pederson cites these as the key components to growth.

“I like to watch [students] struggle,” Pederson said. “It sounds so horrible, but I truly believe that it’s in your struggles that you figure out what sticks.”

Students and teachers alike enjoy her teaching style, finding it to be fun and engaging. One example of this, according to Ndlovu, was when Pederson used a Taylor Swift song to help teach a Spanish grammar topic.

“It was fun to have a student teacher with fresh perspectives on things,” Ndlovu said. “The class literally shrieked with glee when they heard the song start playing.”

Junior Teagan O’Connor, who had Pederson when she was a student teacher, also had good things to say about her.

“I liked that she made class interactive and fun,” O’Connor said. “She made an effort to connect with her students, and you could tell she really enjoyed what she was teaching, which made class more fun.”

Additionally, being a language teacher, Pederson has a love for languages and how they help people connect.

“I’m a firm believer that humans—we were designed to communicate,” Pederson said. “We have that urgency to communicate, and I like that language is the key component to doing that.”

Outside of school, she helps her husband with his business. She also works out, and she specializes in powerlifting and bodybuilding. Powerlifting involves three different lifts: bench presses, deadlifts, and squats. Powerlifters add these weights together to see how much they can lift total. Pederson’s current total is 830 pounds.

Pederson in the middle of a deadlift. Photo by Janae Pederson.

Her husband is participating in a competition in January, and she is still deciding whether she wants to join.

“I started in 2018 and I’m in love with the sport, but I then switched over to bodybuilding,” Pederson said. “I do the powerlifts, like bench, deadlift, and squats, but I focus a lot on growing muscle mass, so bodybuilding.”

She encourages women to try it out, as she believes that it’s both empowering and good for their health. Although lifting is seen as a typically manly sport, she hopes that more girls will give it a chance. She used to be scared that lifting would make her look manly as well, but that theory has proved to be wrong even after five years.

“I think for girls, if they start at a younger age, it’s awesome to see how it will shape them,” Pederson said. “[I] encourage girls to be brave, go out of their comfort zone, and try something new.”