As a newlywed, Jana Metzger wanted to make something special for her husband, Jeremy, on his birthday.
“In my family, growing up, we always had chocolate cake for people’s birthdays,” said Metzger, a Bowling Green teacher. “Naturally, when it was my husband’s birthday, I made him a chocolate cake.”
He told her he wasn’t really a cake fan, and requested a peach pie.
“I made my first one and he was in heaven,” Metzger said.
A woman she knows from church introduced her to a Sour Cherry Pie.
“I tasted that and I was like, ‘oh my goodness — this is so good,’” she said.
Metzger took the recipe and made it her own.
“It calls for a cup and a half of sugar — which is a lot of sugar — so I’m a little bit lenient on that side. I’ve actually made it with as little as a cup of sugar and it tastes totally fine,” she said.
Add more flour, too, if there are super juicy cherries.
The family loves both the cherry and peach pies, and she freezes both fruits in the summer in quart bags so she can make them in the off season.
Metzger encouraged cooks to try her crust.
“It’s a homemade crust. It only has flour, Crisco and a little bit of salt, but it has almost a shortbread taste,” she said.
Metzger has enjoyed the summer being home — and part of the spring due to coronavirus — but is looking forward to getting back to her students. She teaches third grade at Kenwood Elementary
Third grade is the best, she said.
“I like that they still like their teacher. They don’t have a lot of attitude. I still get the notes, ‘World’s Best Teacher’ and ‘You’re the Greatest,’ but they’re kind of like crossing over,” Metzger said.
“They’re forming some opinions, they’re having some ideas, really coming into their own. But these are kids who will still give you hugs at the end of the day.”
Her mind hasn’t been changed due to the recent third grade reading guarantee from the state.
“A lot of times, people are driven away from third grade because of state testing. For me, I want to be that bridge,” she said. “We can work together and overcome.”
Metzger knew from a young age that she wanted to be a teacher.
“I had some really influential teachers in my life, growing up, and ever since I was little, I always played school. I always wanted to be the teacher. I would pretend to be my teachers when I got home from school,” she said. “I have vivid memories of my kindergarten teacher, of stuff that she would plan and do. I just loved it.”
Metzger got her bachelor’s degree in education from Bowling Green State University in 2008. While in college, she waited tables at Pizza Hut.
“I realized that I really liked to serve people, seeing what their needs are and helping them and respond to them,” she said. “I realized that’s what you do when you teach — you help see the needs of children and then you help to go meet those needs.
“For me, that was really eye opening.”
Her idea of teaching has evolved.
Her first years were spent being very thorough, detailed and organized. Metzger was miserable.
“I tried to be that teacher for a couple of years, and I just couldn’t do it. That’s just not who I am,” she said. “I want to have a classroom where kids feel loved and safe and secure and seen.
“My goal is that’s always first for me, building that relationship and that connection,” Metzger said. “I truly don’t think that students will engage with you as true learners until they can trust you.”
She has her master’s degree from Marygrove College and will finish her “plus 30” graduate hours this summer.
The whole family is active in Dayspring Assembly of God, where Jeremy is a pastor.
Throughout the pandemic, the church has been providing meals, including a Wednesday night drive thru.
“It opened our eyes up to the needs around you, just how you can really easily respond to them, much more than what we think,” Metzger said.
Her family came to Bowling Green when her dad started doing college ministry at Dayspring. Her parents are Van and Dee Robison. Husband Jeremy’s parents are also in town.
They have three children, Elam, 8, Jubilee, 6, and Promise, 2.
The names all have special meaning.
“For Elam, we were watching a Browns game and there was a player named Abram Elam, and I was pregnant. We didn’t know what we were having,” she said. “I looked at my husband and said, ‘I like that name.’ And he said, ‘Abram?’ I said, ‘No, Elam.’”
Jubilee is Metzger’s middle name — one that is in the family.
“When I was born, my family lived in Laredo, Texas, the very southern part. My mom always said that she felt as if we were the only blond-haired, blue-eyed children in the area. It was a very Hispanic area and she just couldn’t wrap her mind around my first name being Jubilee.”
So, Jana Jubilee it was.
Jubilee’s middle name is Promise, and that’s the only name that Metzger had picked out for the couple’s third child. As with all of them, they chose not to know the gender while pregnant.
“She was born May 30. It was Mother’s Day, just before she was born, and my Mother’s Day gift was a necklace that had the kids’ names on it. And he (Jeremy) put Promise on it,” Metzger said. “Sure enough, Promise was born.
“Her middle name is Hesed, and that name came from, in the Old Testament of the Bible, that would describe ‘loving, kindness.’”