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A Knockout Teacher

News Story

Childhood Education Teaching Fellow Jennifer Czirr ’15 is boxing her way to the Barclays Center for the Golden Gloves Finals on April 2, and she’s sharing the values of sportsmanship with her students along the way.

Jennifer Czirr ’15—a childhood education Teaching Fellow at Pace, special education teacher in Staten Island, and dedicated boxer—is succeeding in the classroom and in the ring. As she gears up for the Golden Gloves Finals boxing tournament at the Barclays Center on April 2, she’s taking her students along for the ride by imparting valuable lessons she’s learned through sports on them.

Sports have always been a source of positivity for Czirr. A former captain of Hunter College’s Women’s Basketball team during her undergraduate years, she saw the team through back-to-back championships. But when her mother passed from cancer in 2006, after Czirr had crossed the stage at graduation and exited the court, she found herself in need of a new positive outlet to get her through a rough time. Inspired by her great uncle and former Army boxer who lost his arm on D-Day, she turned to boxing.

After disciplined training at her boxing gym, Czirr is now preparing for the fight of her life at the 88th Daily News Golden Gloves Finals, the most prestigious two days in amateur boxing, where she will compete in the 154lb women’s division.

“It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity. For some people, it’s their dream to make it that far. I wish my mom and my uncle were here to see it, but I know they would be really proud of me. I’m just really excited about it,” she says.

Czirr is currently raising funds via Crowdrise to attend and compete in the National Golden Gloves tournament in Florida later this summer, shortly after she finishes her MST at Pace and walks at graduation.

But until then, her day job isn’t what you’d expect of someone who’s had such astounding amateur boxing success; she’s a special education teacher for South Richmond High School I.S./P.S. 25 in Staten Island, where she’s incorporated sports into her classroom as well.

“I run my class as if we’re a team. I call my desk the coach’s corner. The cubbies are the locker room. Everything is a lot of team work and group work,” she says. “There are so many things that sports teaches kids, particularly everything from confidence to discipline to working with others, how to speak with others, how to motivate others, and how to push when you don’t think you can push any more. Sports teach you to strive to be better all the time.”

Czirr found her way into teaching while working on her capstone project for her first master’s, which she earned in public administration at City College. She worked with kids and the local New York City community to transform an abandoned lot into a garden park, which allowed her to reconnect with her passion for helping others. From there, she knew education was the next ring she wanted to enter and she applied to be a New York City Teaching Fellow.

“Though Teaching Fellows places you at a school, I was lucky to get placed at Pace. The School of Education has been really supportive and really helpful. It’s been top-notch in terms of preparing you to teach in the classroom and get your certification,” she says.

Someday, Czirr would like to go back to administration, but for now she wants to see boxing through and continue to work with nonprofits. She recently raised $1,000 for Gleason Gym’s Give a Kid a Dream program to bring at-risk youth into the gym’s supportive environment and ring; she also tutors children as well.

Support a fellow Setter and watch Czirr take on Adrienne Ford at the Barclays Center in the Women’s 154 lb division on Thursday, April 2. Tickets can be purchased on Ticketmaster, and range from $30 to $70. 

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