Educator of the Year

March 29, 2012
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Chemistry is, without a doubt, one of the most horrible classes a sophomore has to take, causing students the most stress and being one of the hardest classes of the year. When you have a teacher that’s positively boring, or can’t teach the subject worth a darn, it becomes even worse. Here at Cleburne High School, though, we have a chemistry teacher that not only has sympathy for what we’re going through, but constantly keeps us engaged in her class with her witty and humorous remarks, is fair to all her students, makes us think harder than we’ve ever had to before, and pushes us to do our best. She always speaks her mind and actually gets to know some of her students. Her name is Carol Jenkins, but of course all of her students just call her Mrs. Jenkins.

Nothing can prepare you for a class like this. I walked into that class at the beginning of the year fearing it would damage my GPA significantly along with my mental health, seriously, but now there isn’t much left of this school year and I find myself still able to get through the day as well as being in the top ten of my class. I think this class has taught me more in the past year than any other class ever has, and I’ve had to maintain all that information since it does nothing but build on top of everything else. It’s all thanks to Mrs. Jenkins though. Her way of teaching is a simple lesson that only lasts as long as it takes for her students to comprehend, along with the homework for that night. If it’s something simple it may only take twenty minutes, if that long, but if it’s something that she knows is a little harder for us to understand then she may take the whole class period and do the first problem on the homework with us. Then we’re on our own and learn the rest by thinking and working it out. We learn by doing it ourselves, and it works! She always asks if we understand what she’s teaching and lets us know what mornings and afternoons she’ll be available for tutoring, but if we figure out the problem on our own we’re more likely to know how to do it again in the future. At the very beginning of the year we had to memorize something called “The Pink Sheet”. It’s a list of different ions, acids, and diatomic elements that make chemistry a whole lot easier if you have memorized. We took quizzes over small sections, forcing us to memorize the information for the sake of a good grade, and as time passed the quizzes tested us over a larger portion of the sheet. If the majority of the students in all her classes did badly on a quiz, we would take another quiz over the same information to make sure it was engraved in our brain. This method worked extremely well.

Mrs. Jenkins chemistry class isn’t boring like some of the other classes are either. Yes, it’s chemistry and we do labs, so of course it’s not all that dull, but it’s still interesting when she’s teaching a lesson as well. Her attitude and one of a kind personality keeps us awake and listening attentively. I’ve never caught my thoughts wandering while she’s talking, and I know the same goes for the people around me. Her random vocabulary words, like “stellar”, capture our attention and make us smile, and I’m pretty sure I haven’t gone a single day in that class without laughing at least a little bit.

She’s fair to every one when it comes to grades. If we fail a test miserably there’s a chance to make it up, but the highest grade a person can get on the retake is a 70. Why give a person that failed the first time a chance to make a higher grade than someone who went to tutoring and worked hard to pass the first time? She also knows what we’re going through with everything else going on (tests to make up in other classes, doctors appointments, etc.) so she’s flexible with her schedule, giving us 3 different days to make something up before or after school rather than just one set date alone.
Outside of chemistry work, Mrs. Jenkins is also one of those people that you can feel comfortable talking around. There was one day where a group of people around me were all having a horrible day. Nothing was going right, and things just kept getting worse. We were done with our work for a change and were talking about what was wrong with every one. Mrs. Jenkins came into the conversation and told us her point of view on every single thing with complete honesty, and by the end of the class period I think we all felt at least a little better. Our spirits were a little more lifted, and people were back to laughing.
Not only is Mrs. Jenkins a spectacular chemistry teacher, but also someone who teaches life lessons and things that will help us out in the future. She’s a teacher that would be extremely hard to forget, and (even through all the stress and misery of school) makes good memories in her classroom. She’s one of the few staff members in the school that I, and my classmates, feel comfortable talking to and can get the complete truth from. Mrs. Jenkins is someone who always ends up being missed by her students and manages to leave an impact on their life.

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