|Kerry Jensen stands by a Gary Prazen rendition of Mont Harmon's mascot, a pirate. This year as principal, he will be the leader of the Pirates, but will blend in well because of his 12 years of experience at the school as an assistant principal before going to Carbon High and Wellington Elementary.|
When Kerry Jensen heard last spring that some principals in Carbon School District would be shifted around for the 2006-07 year, he wasn't concerned.
After all, the veteran teacher and then Wellington principal had put in time as an administrator at all three levels since beginning his career with the district in the late 1970s.
And when Jensen found out he would move to Mont Harmon as the principal of the junior high school, he felt like he was going home.
"I really liked being the principal in Wellington," he said as he sat in his office at the junior high preparing paperwork. "But I spent a lot of years here before and it is very familiar to me."
Jensen is one of three principals replacing others administrators at schools around the district. He spent from 1988 to 2000 at Mont Harmon as an assistant principal.
"Every level of education has its advantages and drawbacks," pointed out Jensen. "The thing that is unique about educating kids in this age group is the influence you have over the rest of their lives. Ask anyone at any age who attended junior high and ask them to name two influential teachers in their life and at least one of them will be an instructor they had at the junior high level. What teachers do with this age group sticks with people, and often guides their careers for the rest of their life."
Jensen's tenure with the district began when he was hired as a teacher at Sally Mauro Elementary, where he spent two years. He taught at the old Reeves School for two years, went back to Sally Mauro for another year and finished his time teaching at the elementary level at Creekview, where he spent five years.
The next year, Jensen took sabbatical leave to earn an administrator's certificate. While doing his administrative internship and splitting that time between Carbon and Emery school districts, an opening came up at Mont Harmon through a series of transfers due to the illness of a principal at an elementary school. It was late in the school year and the district asked him if he would fill in as an assistant at Mont Harmon for the rest of the year and he did so.
The fill-in position turned into a permanent assignment the next year.
In 2000, Jensen moved from Mont Harmon to Carbon High as an assistant principal and transferred to Wellington Elementary in 2001.
Jensen looks forward to the upcoming year, partly because many faculty members who were at Mont Harmon when he was an assistant principal are still at the school.
But he also pointed out that the school will have two new English teachers, one new health and physical education teacher and at least one new computer teacher. He will also have a teacher that will be shared with another school.
When asked about coming challenges, he had a list, but noted they "weren't anything we can't overcome."
"Right now we are still fiddling around with the schedule for this year," he said. "We are already seeing that we are going to have more students than we thought and we will have to find room for them."
He also said that another challenge, due to changes over the past few years at Mont Harmon, will be that he and his new assistant principal, Carol Wells (previously principal at East Carbon High and at Petersen Elementary last year), will have to create a feeling of stability for faculty and students.
"And despite the fact I spent so many years here I am still going to have to reacquaint myself with working at the junior high level," he said.
"It takes a lot of dedication to stay working at the junior high level as a teacher," he said. "It isn't always easy, and it takes special people to stay put. This faculty has some very choice people on it."
As for what parents new to Jensen's administrative style can expect he says he always likes to keep an open door and to listen to people's problems.
"I will listen and give kids fair treatment," he said. "But that doesn't always mean a parent will get the answer they want when they come to see me, but I will do my best."
Jensen says a junior high school is an institution that is there to not only make students better academically but also help kids to be better citizens.
"The years I spent at Wellington Elementary were some of the best years of my educational career, but now I look forward to spending some very good years here too," he concluded.