Jeremy Bletterman: Connecting Students and Faculty to Broader World

Stephanie Huie

Assistant Division Head of Manhattan Middle School

Pictured is Mr. Bletterman on the right with Lori Squillante, Manhattan Lower School Assistant Division Head, and Leslie Zuckerwise, Manhattan Lower & Middle Schools Division Head. 

A huge smile, an adventurous spirit, and an incredible passion for the Windward community describes Jeremy Bletterman, the newly appointed Assistant Division Head of Windward’s Manhattan Middle School. Mr. Bletterman’s path to teaching took several interesting turns before he was able to realize his lifelong desire to become an educator.

Born in Los Angeles to a family that frequently moved around the country, Mr. Bletterman learned at an early age that resiliency and the ability to create a sense of community were qualities that would serve him well in life. When his family permanently settled in New Jersey, Mr. Bletterman completed his high school education and attended Rutgers University, where he graduated with a degree in psychology and communications.

Although he thought about a career in education, Mr. Bletterman decided to enter the world of advertising. Successful as a media planner and a sales executive at large advertising firms, he did not find the rewarding aspect he had been seeking. Willing to challenge himself after ten years, Mr. Bletterman decided to pursue his lifelong dream of becoming a teacher. “I had always wanted to be a teacher, and I finally found the courage to completely change my career,” he recalls. “Looking back, it was the best decision of my professional life.”

In order to enter the education field, Mr. Bletterman pursued an advanced degree in childhood education from the City University of New York Brooklyn College. As part of his studies, he taught a fourth-grade gifted and talented class at a Brooklyn public school. “This experience helped me recognize the profound impact I could have on students by encouraging them to believe in themselves and inspiring them to become lifelong learners,” explains Mr. Bletterman. “I had always known the responsibility of being a teacher went well beyond planning lessons and grading assignments, and this formative experience gave me a much deeper appreciation of the critical role an educator can play in the lives of children and families.”

Due to his innate ability to connect with children and his understanding of curriculum and instruction methodology, Mr. Bletterman was asked to assume a leave replacement position in a New Jersey independent school. He proved to be an outstanding teacher and was given the honor of attending the New Jersey Association of Independent Schools’ Leadership Institute, a biennial opportunity for educators to develop their understanding of leadership in independent education and to build management skills.

Continually seeking to improve his teaching skills, Mr. Bletterman sought out a school where he could learn the skills and strategies to become a master teacher and have a greater impact on students who struggled academically. When he learned of an opening at The Windward School, he quickly applied. Incredibly impressed with the School’s research-based, direct instruction teaching model and the outstanding teacher training opportunities, Mr. Bletterman knew Windward was where he wanted to continue his teaching career. Even a two-hour commute could not dampen his enthusiasm for joining the faculty. “It was love at first sight, and I began my career assisting master teachers in daily classes,” he shares.

While assisting in classrooms, he was immersed in The Windward School’s intensive teacher training program. Attending professional development classes through Windward Teacher Training Institute, weekly seminars, mentoring sessions, and the Summer Intensive Training Program, Mr. Bletterman honed his knowledge of research-based strategies. “Like many Windward faculty members, when I reflect on my teaching before having attended the Windward training program, I cringe,” he confesses. “It wasn’t until I internalized Windward’s direct-instruction methodology that my teaching practice began to take shape. I can now only envision approaching teaching and learning only through ‘the proven Windward way.’”

After completing The Windward School training program and assuming teaching responsibilities, Mr. Bletterman was selected by Ms. Leslie Zuckerwise, Division Head of Windward Manhattan, to be the first activities coordinator at the new campus slated to open the next fall. “The chance to play a role in shaping the next phase of the School’s evolution and in a leadership position was exactly the kind of opportunity I had been searching for professionally,” he expresses. “I gladly accepted.” Once again, Mr. Bletterman’s leadership qualities and his enthusiasm for new and challenging roles were recognized by school administration.

This new role was well suited to Mr. Bletterman’s lifelong interest in exploring new and exciting opportunities for cultural and sport activities. In his personal life, he enjoys playing sports and music (he is charter member of The Windward School faculty band), cooking, and playing with his dog, Henry. His greatest passion, though, is traveling the world with his wife to learn about different cultures. Mr. Bletterman has visited over thirty countries on six continents with his favorite destination, thus far, being Kenya.

As activities coordinator, Mr. Bletterman was mentored by veteran faculty member and Westchester Middle School Activities Coordinator, Jason Steiker, and Daniel Smith, Windward Manhattan Assistant Athletic Director, to create a robust after-school sports and cultural program and to build a tight- knit Windward community spanning both middle school campuses. Under the direction of Mr. Bletterman, Windward Manhattan Middle School students not only engaged with their Westchester peers during Friday night outings but also had opportunities to attend many sporting and cultural events.

A sampling of the exciting and unique activities that Mr. Bletterman arranged for students included taking a dance class at the world famous Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and attending a company performance at New York City Center later that evening; hearing current and former members of The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra perform classic Count Basie and Duke Ellington tunes at the Rose Theater in Columbus Circle; and cheering on the New York Islanders ice hockey team at Barclays Center in Brooklyn where students were invited to high-five all of the players as they retook the ice for the second period.

Mr. Bletterman’s favorite part of being at The Windward School is the opportunity to engage and interact with the students and families. “I absolutely love teaching, but being the activities coordinator for the past two years has afforded me the opportunity to get to know every single Windward Manhattan student and many of their families,” he admits. “As Assistant Division Head at Windward’s Manhattan Middle School, I look forward to working with Ms. Zuckerwise in our efforts to guide the evolution of the ever-expanding Manhattan community and to becoming a better and broader resource for the incredibly talented and dedicated faculty.”