Getting to Know ... Jennifer Elinburg

A North Gwinnett grad, Jennifer Elinburg got her degree in physical education from the University of Georgia and now teaches at Duluth High School.

Just recently she switched from teaching P.E. to special education and consequently got involved in Gwinnett's fledgling AdaptedSports program. It's designed to offer competitive athletic teams for the county's physically disabled students and Elinburg is one of three coaches for the program's first team, the Gwinnett Heat, who play basketball.

In this installment of "Getting to Know ...", Elinburg took some time to talk to staff writer Christine Troyke about a variety of topics, including her career moves, coaching, concerts and cars.

CT: How long have you taught in Gwinnett County?

JE: This is my third year, but my fifth year teaching.

CT: Where were you before Duluth?

JE: I taught at Buford Middle School for two years and then I went to B.B. Harris Elementary School and I taught P.E. Then I was displaced when Gwinnett County last year overhired. There were two P.E. teachers and I was the one that got displaced because I was the last hired.

So then I went to Dacula and taught special ed and now here I am at Duluth. (Laughing) I've taught at four schools in five years.

CT: You taught P.E. the first four years?

JE: The first three years. Well, last year I taught it for like a month before I got displaced.

CT: You also coached?

JE: I coached at Buford Middle, girls basketball. My husband and I. And I coached there for two years and I also coached a lot of like little league. But I had a little boy and I just can't coach and have kids. Or not little ones anyway.

CT: What were your main reasons for signing on as one of the coaches for the county's first AdaptedSports teams?

JE: First of all, when I went to college, I was going to do special ed. I actually met with my advisor and they said, "What is it that you love?" I said, well, I love kids and I love sports. They said, "What better than to be a P.E. teacher?"

I always, always wanted to do special ed. But I've always, always wanted to coach sports. And with special ed, you can do the Special Olympics kind of thing, but that's how I got into coaching physically disabled sports. And then just the fact that I was out of coaching for three years and, time-wise, it's one day a week (for practice) and Saturdays, so I still get to have my family time.

CT: How old is your son?

JE: He's 2.

CT: What's his name?

JE: Caden.

CT: How did you come up with that name?

JE: The Internet. We were going to name him Bryce and one of our friends named their child Bryce. After I told her we were going to name our child Bryce.

CT: Uh-oh. That's a major faux pas.

JE: So we ended up naming him Caden Bryce.

And that's one thing, I wanted to be different. I'm a Jennifer. Everybody has that name. I wanted to be different and now everyone has the name Caden.

CT: Where did you grow up?

JE: I went to North Gwinnett and grew up in the Buford/Sugar Hill area.

CT: What sports did you play growing up?

JE: I played softball and basketball.

CT: Did you play both at North?

JE: I played my freshman year softball and then until I was a junior I played basketball.

CT: Did you keep doing sports when you got to Georgia?

JE: Mmm-hmm. Definitely. A lot of intramurals. And I took a lot of (sports) classes, being a P.E. teacher.

Actually, the coach out of Georgia that got in trouble (Jim Harrick Jr.), I was in that (Coaching Principles and Strategies of Basketball) class.

CT: Oh yeah? How easy was that test?

JE: Actually, I had to help a football player on it.

CT: Someone sent me the actual test a couple years ago and I couldn't believe it.

JE: It was one of my favorite classes. But (test aside), it was so informational. It was fun. He taught us plays and drills. I got a lot out of it.

But it was true if we went to a practice and a game, we did get an A.

CT: When did you decide on your career path? Was it something you thought about in high school?

JE: Oh, yes. I've always known I wanted to be a teacher. Well, actually, when I was little, I wanted to be a missionary.

But I knew I didn't want an office job. And I really like kids. I hated school though (laughing). I love it now.

CT: Everybody has to go to school, but not that many people end up teaching it, seeing it from the other side. Is a different experience?

JE: (Laughing) It's a lot better.

CT: A little less social stress?

JE: A lot less.

CT: When's the last time you saw a movie in a theater?

JE: I took my kids to see "Bolt." We took three of our (special education) classes. We had the whole theater to ourselves and it was in 3-D.

CT: Did you go to the movies much before you had your son?

JE: Not really. We're more sports people. You'll see us in a gym, on a football field or a baseball diamond. We're just sports people.

We go to the Georgia Force. We have - had - season tickets last year and then we ordered them before they (folded the league in December). It was my husband's Christmas present.

CT: So you had to go look for something else?

JE: Yeah. I think we're going to get Gwinnett Braves tickets.

CT: Do you remember the first concert you ever went to?

JE: The very first concert? Probably New Kids on the Block. Oh, do not tell that! Oh my gosh.

CT: It's actually a pretty good bet with women, if they fall in a certain age bracket, that the first concert they went to was New Kids on the Block.

JE: My last concert though was Keith Urban and Carrie Underwood. And I'm actually on the video.

CT: Oh, really?

JE: Yeah, they shot the DVD at the Gwinnett Arena. I was in the video. It was kinda cool. My face took up the whole screen.

CT: You must have been up close.

JE: I was in the front row. It was a birthday present for my husband for Carrie Underwood. He loves Carrie Underwood.

CT: So you signed on to coach the (AdaptedSport) basketball team. Are you going to do the handball or the football?

JE: Right now I'm going to do the football. But, like I said, my family is my life. My husband coaches football and that is a huge portion of his time. So I might not be able to do handball, but definitely basketball and football.

CT: What was your first car?

JE: Oh my gosh. It was awful. My grandfather got Alzheimer's Disease when I was in high school so my grandmother had to sell (her car).

So I got her 1984 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme. It was brown interior, but it was yellow outside with a brown top. People called it the bruised banana.

My grandmother had it for 12 years and never got a scratch on it. I think I had it a month and it was scratched, dented from where I ran into a tree in my front yard and where I backed into my boyfriend's car in the parking lot of the high school.

CT: What was the first car that you bought?

JE: I split it with my parents, but it was a 1999 Sunfire. My dad retired from GM and I got to order everything I wanted on it.

CT: Do you think you'll continue with special ed or would you think about going back to the regular P.E.?

JE: I love both of them. I never really thought I'd leave P.E. and the only reason I did was because of the displacement. Had I not been displaced, I'd probably still be in P.E. But I really like special ed. I love my kids.