February 2, 2024
What came first -- the chicken or the egg?
Badin High School math teacher Jennifer Zeller laughs at the question – she just knows that she has a lot of chickens, and they lay a lot of eggs.
“My daughter said it might be fun to have some chickens, so I thought we would try it,” said Zeller, who is in her first year teaching at Badin but her 30th year in the profession. “Chicken math is real. I was told to make room for double the number, and that’s the truth. I started with six chickens last year, and now we have 18.”
Zeller teaches Algebra I to freshmen and Statistics to seniors at Badin, and has made an easy transition to the Catholic school in Hamilton.
“Math is a language – you just have to teach the students to understand the language of Math,” said Zeller, who taught for 24 years at Mother of Mercy High in Cincinnati before it closed in May of 2018, then for the last five years at St. James White Oak. “When students understand the language, then they can do Math.
“Math is beautiful,” she added. “I enjoy teaching the concepts and seeing how it all fits together.”
Badin Principal Patrick Keating said the school was happy to get a teacher with the quality and experience of Zeller.
“Jennifer encapsulates everything you hope for when hiring a teacher for freshman students,” he commented. “High expectations, an understanding of the transition between junior high and high school, and a constant thirst for knowledge and growth.
“She immediately stood out due to her wealth of experience,” Keating added. “She has been committed to Catholic education for her entire career and we are so fortunate to have her teaching at Badin.”
“Do you know how many things would fall apart if you didn’t have Math?” Zeller emphasized. “Well, we’re only off by an inch -- that won’t work! Math anxiety gets passed down. So many people say Math is hard – it’s hard to combat that stereotype.”
Zeller, a mother of three who graduated from Ursuline Academy and Mount St. Joseph University, lives on an acre of land on Minton Road in western Butler County. She bought the piece of property from a neighbor of her parents in 2020.
Her 18 chickens lay about a dozen eggs a day, and all of the chickens have names.
“They have their own personality,” said Zeller with a smile. “Some respond to their names, and some are very friendly. They will fly up and sit on my shoulder while I work. They’re so fun. I just sit out there and watch them.”
She pointed out that chickens are “sunrise to sunset” animals who are typically back in their chicken coop by 5:30 p.m.
“You have to worry about predators,” said Zeller, who also has four dogs. “Everyone wants to eat chickens – hawks, raccoons, coyotes, dogs. The hardest part is keeping them safe. And of course, there’s a lot of chicken poop. You spend a lot of time cleaning. It’s a challenge.”
The eggs, while all different colors, are much more tasty than what you get in the grocery store, Zeller noted, because they’re fresher by more than a month.
As for Math, Zeller conceded she would recommend changing things up a bit.
“We should be doing more financial literacy and Real World applications,” she said. “Things that people use on a daily basis – in the grocery stores or on your tax form. You could probably save on teaching the quadratic formula – save that for the people who are going into Engineering and Physics.”
Contact: Dirk Q. Allen, Dallen@BadinHS.org or (513) 869-4490