One In A Million Feature
Name: Jenny Hansen
School: Madrid Neighborhood School
Grade: 2nd Grade
How long have you been a teacher?
This year is my fourth year as a teacher.
What made you get into the teaching profession?
I grew up helping teach lessons in Sunday school and so I have been working with kids for a long time! My mom is also a teacher and she inspired me to get interested in education. I realized quickly I love working with little ones so I got my degree in Early Childhood Education. There is nothing like the “light bulb” moment when a student understands something, and that is one of my favorite parts!
Who was your most inspirational teacher and why?
One of my favorite teachers was my elementary school music teacher. I can just remember how much passion she had for education and music. That is a class I remember always looking forward to. She made learning relatable, fun and exciting. I can still remember things she said to me. She made a connection with every student she had, and made them feel important.
What do you think are some of the biggest challenges teachers in Arizona face right now?
One of the biggest challenges we face right now is the continued rebuilding after the COVID pandemic hit education. I would say this year is the most “normal” year I’ve had since I began teaching. With that being said, the students I currently have in my class, attended Kindergarten mostly online. I think we have only just begun to realize the impact that online learning has had on these kids. It has impacted them socially, emotionally and academically. We are working harder than ever to support these kids in every way we can, and it can be exhausting!
How do these issues affect your day to day?
Teachers are working harder than ever to support these kids in every way we can, and it can be exhausting! We are really hitting the grindstone this year to intentionally plan and make sure our classes are rigorous. This takes off-contract time and a lot of hard work. We have to be very intentional with students who are behind to try and close the achievement gap as much as we can. We are seeing growth, which is exciting!
What does the $250 tax deduction for school supplies for teachers mean to you?
Teachers spend money out of pocket. It is something that just happens. I tried my best to not spend much for this school year, and as I returned to the classroom, my shopping list kept growing with things I may need to help my students be successful this year. The deduction helps in knowing I am being financially supported at least in some way. When it comes to out of pocket spending, it’s not if, but when.
How are the expectations of becoming a teacher different from reality?
I think generally it is acknowledged that the teaching profession is not an easy one, so I think that is well understood. It can be very mentally draining, and that is the reality. However, I think people don’t talk as much about the exciting parts of teaching. When you see students learn and grow, all the funny and little clever things the kids say, those are the things that make me smile.
Why do you think teachers burn out so quickly?
Teaching is exhausting. You are constantly making decisions, worrying about your students. I think one of the most difficult things is trying to turn all of that off when you go home. I know every teacher will say they are guilty of lying in bed at night worrying about a specific student. There is also a lot expected of teachers. Most of the public knows that teaching is hard, but really don’t know what it is we actually do day to day. We pour our heart and souls out every day, and that can take a lot out of a person. I always say, my to-do list never ends.
What “fills your cup” when you’re running on empty?
One thing that always fills my heart is sweet notes from my kids. Second graders are never shy to tell you that they love you.
It is also so encouraging when a parent gives you a compliment. I know I am always worrying that I am doing enough for these kids, and it means a lot when a parent reaches out and takes time to say they appreciate what I do for their child.
I also love to get together with other teachers after school. It is so nice to vent with other teachers, and remind yourself you’re not crazy, the stories you are telling have happened to everyone!
What are some of the most thoughtful and effective ways parents and the community can show gratitude?
Honestly, from parents, I just love encouraging words. I don’t need gifts or presents, I just love to hear how excited they are about all that their child is learning. I love when they share stories of their children applying their knowledge at home. It makes my heart happy!
From the community, the best way to show gratitude is to continue to support education, continue to advocate for mental health in teachers, and keep showing support for the teachers that work so hard.
What is your wish for Arizona’s children?
In Arizona, one of my greatest wishes is for every child to receive the best education they can. I want parents to send their children to school consistently, I want students to be well fed, and to feel well supported by their parents and their teachers. I want students to notice that their teachers and parents talk and communicate. Most importantly, I want every child to feel safe, and excited to come to school and learn.
What additional support or supplies do you need in your classroom and who do people contact if they want to help out?
We can always use pencils, notebooks, pencil boxes and pouches. Small toys, prizes and stickers are always appreciated for my treasure box.
Hygiene products are also always appreciated (shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, feminine products). One thing right now that is appreciated is warm coats as the weather gets cooler.
Contact Madrid Neighborhood school at 602-336-2280.