One Page Bio

Who is Jen?

Jennifer A. Nehl has been in education since 1994.

She has worked all levels of education—elementary, middle school, and high school—and has seven years’ administrative experience. She has taught high school English language arts (ELA), K–12 music (band, choir, and general), secondary social studies, and secondary science. She also held the title of statewide literacy coordinator for the South Dakota Department of Education.

Jen began her journey of serving at-risk youth as a high school ELA teacher/vice principal. It was during this assignment she realized she had a strong desire to learn as much a possible about the behaviors of the at-risk and underserved in order to provide the highest-quality learning opportunities possible in her classrooms and schools.

Upon leaving the alternative learning environment, Jen embarked on a 10-year journey as an education specialist providing professional development to schools and school districts across the nation. She possesses expertise and has trained in such techniques and strategies as literacy, best teaching practices, relationship building, building culture and climate in schools and classrooms, parent engagement, and data retreats. However, the training she has enjoyed delivering the most is the Framework for Understanding Poverty training from aha! Process. Jen began by training the schools where she was a principal and saw amazing successes for students, parents, and teachers. She now presents Framework, Emotional Poverty, and Research-Based Strategies to diverse audiences across the U.S.

Jen’s credentials


  • Master of Education in K–12 Administration and Supervision with an Emphasis on Instructional Leadership, University of South Dakota
  • Bachelor of Science, K–12 Music Education
  • Bachelor of Science, Secondary ELA

Work history

  • Adjunct professor, Sioux Falls University
  • Adjunct professor, University of Wyoming
  • Adjunct Professor, University of South Dakota
  • K–12 Principal
  • Education Specialist
  • State Literacy Coordinator
  • Curriculum Director
  • Vice Principal
  • Classroom Teacher

Jen’s aha! moment

Though I had been working with a diverse population of students for a number of years and felt I had a strong sense of building relationships, I knew there was more I could do to reach my students. When I heard Ruby lecture for the first time at a national conference, I knew this was the missing piece. Not only did Ruby provide powerful tools be more in-tune with my students, she gave me valuable insight into my own behaviors and actions.

Jen’s passions
When I’m not training or traveling, I enjoy keynoting for various organizations and joining Cognia teams providing accreditation for excellent schools across the nation. Each day I continue to sharpen my education skills and talents while providing opportunities to meet wonderful people. I am also in the process of completing my first book, which will address relationship building in the 21st century.

Jen’s best trainings
Most often, when I begin to speak about Dr. Payne’s research, I am usually met with skepticism and pushback by at least a few people in attendance. When we begin to talk about the “why our kids do what they do, and have you ever seen _____ in your classroom?” these participants soften and open up to the conversation. I love when these same participants are the first ones to approach me at a break or at the end of the training to thank me and comment on how much they’ve learned!

What does Jen do for fun?

I live in one of the most beautiful locations in our nation. My family and I are avid hikers, fishermen (and fisherwomen), and outdoorsmen. We love to ski, snowmobile, snowshoe, and backpack!

What people are saying about Jen?

“A wonderful presenter who could captivate an audience that was less than thrilled to be sitting in front of her, and after captivating them, she turned them into engaged listeners who were soaking up information like sponges. Now, of course there are ways to captivate audiences and not offer something that is beneficial for them; this is not the case with Ms. Nehl. She brought issues, information, activities, and ideas that were both beneficial and intriguing for me as an educator.”

“I had the pleasure of experiencing Ms. Nehl’s explosive, positive attitude through many in-service days in my former school district. She is a rock star in her facilitation skills.”

“You have an amazing ability to positively engage staff and administration! You really are an ‘Educational Leader!’”

“Ms. Nehl is a marvelous educator and a refreshing inspiration to the education community.”

“Participants were impressed with your program and commented on the poise and professional attitude. There is no doubt that you are making a difference.”