Thomas Jenkins believes that if it was not for working with a middle school football coach while he was in college, he would not have become a teacher.
Jenkins has been teaching for 22 years, 20 in the Greenon Local Schools District. He teaches 8th grade Science/STEM at Greenon Middle School. He earned his master’s degree in science teaching from Wright State University.
Jenkins and three other teachers will receive the Excellence in Teaching award on March 16. The awards program is sponsored by the Springfield Rotary Club, Ohio Edison, The Springfield Foundation and The Chamber of Greater Springfield.
Each recipient will be introduced and will give a short presentation on what teaching has meant to them and the importance of being a teacher. Recipients will also receive a $1,000 check, a recognition plaque, a glass apple, and proclamations from the Ohio House of Representatives and the Ohio Senate.
Jenkins was a sophomore political science major at Wright State University when he began volunteer coaching at Schaefer Middle School. There he met an inspiring 8th grade football coach.
“As I went through the season, I appreciated the impact that he made within the school community. He truly made a difference in the lives of so many young people,” he said. “I couldn’t help but be inspired, so I promptly switched majors to education. Without his influence and mentorship, I firmly believe that I would not be in the classroom today.”
Jenkins said teaching is a big part of who he is and it pushes him to be better.
“I can honestly say that I love my job and I am thankful to have the opportunity to do something that’s dynamic, challenging and rewarding,” he said. “I am very lucky to have worked among dozens of teachers that come in early, stay late, spend their own money and sometimes even go to support their students at random events on their own time. These are the people that I truly admire and that push me to be better.”
Teaching science, Jenkins said, is something he has always enjoyed as he has “a natural curiosity to explore how and why things work.”
“I was the kid that drove his dad nuts asking a thousand questions during a family road trip,” he said. “I appreciate teaching STEM as the engineering design process associated with my course provides my students a creative outlet to apply their knowledge of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics to attempt to solve real world problems.”
Jenkins has also taught local teachers at Wittenberg University about educational technology as part of their master’s program and students at several local high schools as part of John Hopkins University’s Engineering Innovation program that is held each summer at Clark State Community College.
“I enjoy interacting with students, helping them improve not only their content knowledge of a particular subject but also instilling practices that will help them throughout their lives regardless of their career choice,” Jenkins said. “I love that so many students are so optimistic and possess a “can do” attitude, regardless if they are successful on the first attempt or not.”
Jenkins said receiving this award validates the time he has put in to be a good teacher.
“Receiving this award validates all of the time and effort that I continually invest in my attempt to be a good teacher,” he said. “It means a great deal that the community appreciates my efforts. I like to know that I am doing my part to make Clark County a great place to live.”
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