Nominated by classroom volunteer, Jerry Jensen:
I am retired, and volunteer in Jennifer Jensen’s 8th Grade Special Education class. One cannot really appreciate what her day is like unless they see it in person. I don't know how she does it! She is as much of a "best friend" to these kids as she is a teacher. Many of these children have very rough home lives, and they go to Jennifer for advice and guidance. Many of the students come from a one-parent home. It's truly amazing how a hug from her can turn tears into a smile and give them hope for the future! Jennifer has two Masters Degrees and has a firm, yet sensitive teaching style. Special education kids can sometimes be a handful, but she has learned the secret to keeping them under control: stay calm.......don't get angry......and listen. Many of her past students come back to visit her and thank her for the help she has given them in the past. I enjoy hearing about these success stories! Jennifer often takes some of her old clothing to school and gives it to girls who obviously are in need of it. You would have to actually see her in action to really appreciate what she does! People who say that teachers are over-paid are sadly mistaken. Jennifer quickly goes through her limited supplies, so the gift card from being Educator of the Week for classroom supplies, would really help.
Congratulations Jennifer, from all of us at K103!
What inspired you to become an educator?
I have always enjoyed working with children and I have a variety of interests, so I decided that I wanted to be an elementary school teacher. I ended up getting hired to teach a 8th grade special education class 7 years ago and I truly found my "place" in education. The main reason I wanted to become an educator is to make a difference in student's lives.
What do you like most about teaching?
What I like most about teaching is the relationships I form with my students. Many of my students do not have consistent adult relationships at home and I enjoy providing that stability at school. Students come to me for advice about how to perform better at school, as well as how to navigate friendships and other parts of life. I pride myself in being their biggest "cheerleader" and always being there when they need someone to talk to.
What has changed the most since you began your career in education?
The workload has changed tremendously in my 9 years of teaching. When I began, I worked with a secretary who scheduled all of my IEP meetings and 3 instructional assistants that helped me work with kids. In the past two years, all of those positions have been eliminated and the extra work has fallen on me.
What would you like parents to know about your job?
I work hard every day to provide their children with the best education that will prepare them for the next step, high school. This means that I regularly work 2-3 hours past my contract time and am not paid for the extended work hours.
Share a favorite story about your years in education.
During my first year teaching special education, I worked with a student who didn't seem to care much about school. He wouldn't participate or complete much of his work, but I never gave up on him. I was worried what the future would hold for this student. His freshman year, he came back to visit me and I could see that his attitude toward school had changed. He told me how much he appreciated my persistence in trying to get him involved in school and he wished he would have listened to me. He became involved in sports and completely changed his work ethic at school. In the end, he graduated on time and joined the United States military. This student taught me that no matter what, I can never "give up" on trying to help kids be successful in school and in life. In most instances, teachers never know how they have impacted the lives of their students, but I had the chance to hear that I did make a difference.