Teacher Wayne Jensen in classroom

Ridgewood Elementary School’s Wayne Jensen has been named the Kent School District’s Teacher of the Year.

Jensen was surprised at a staff meeting this week when it was announced by Superintendent Dr. Calvin J. Watts that he was selected as the Kent School District Teacher of the Year for exemplifying KSD core values of equity, excellence and community.

For the past nine years, Jensen has been a teacher at Ridgewood Elementary School.

“I did not leave my [corporate] career and come into education lost in the clouds, brimming with optimism and naivete,” Jensen said in an application. “I came into teaching feeling that if I could help a student care more about their education…if I could make them metacognitive to the point of not just wanting to learn, but to share that infectious desire with classmates as well, then it would be a job well done. And the reward for a job well done is doing it, I come to work with a single-minded driven goal of making a child that couldn’t become a child who can…”

Ridgewood Principal Cynthia Green wrote:

“Mr. Jensen is truly one of a kind. His skill level matches his passion for teaching, and this is evident in the relationships he builds with students and family and educational and social emotional growth that students experience under his leadership.”

Parents praise Mr. Jensen’s persistence and commitment to students sharing how he removes barriers, engages them, and then connects with them.

“Mr. Jensen has a way of explaining to students what they should be learning and why, while maintaining a positive energy and encouraging them,” wrote parent Dominick Lucien in a recommendation letter. “He is known for his excellence, perseverance and commitment in creating an encouraging space for learning and being a teacher that cares for the well-being of the whole community. Not only is he nurturing and inspiring future minds, he is also molding and influencing productive members of society.”

Not only is Mr. Jensen a master teacher that holds and maintains high expectations for his students, he collaborates with other teachers to ensure student success. He currently serves as a teacher mentor where he shares his passion for teaching with new teachers and believes teachers need to “be more than just a dispenser of information, to make sure they [students] are prepared as citizens to be part of the ever-growing global community they will enter.”

In responding to questions about “what are my belief, rewards, style, ideas on teaching?” Mr. Jensen wrote, “Easy…students learn through engagement and working with someone who meets them where they are and gets them to where they didn’t know they wanted to be.”

“Before we [teachers] can hope to impact the academics of a student, we must recognize what makes up the person instructing. I begin each day making sure to check my own teaching model, which includes reflecting on any pre-bias on the materials or students.”

He firmly believes, “when students are given opportunities to understand how they learn, success follows.”

Mr. Jensen is an army veteran and has been married to his wife Nicole since 1991. He is the father of three daughters who all graduated from Kentridge High School and he is very active in the local community, various nonprofits, and local schools.

From left to right: Dr. Calvin J. Watts, Teacher Wayne Jensen, Principal Cynthia Green.