The growth of Harrisburg has brought a lot of change to the community. The District’s innovative mindset on education makes it an exceptional way for kids to learn; in turn, the teachers devise a variety of new ways for instructing their classes. The new schools and their openings provide many opportunities for educational growth, but not all growth comes from the physical expansion of the town.
Some of this innovation comes from the middle of the community at Harrisburg South Middle School; in fact, Mr. Jensen, an ELA teacher at HSMS, has provided many kids with a safe place to be themselves and continue to excel in their academic growth. Originally, Jensen decided to avoid teaching, but when he realized that many of his passions lined up with teaching ELA, he decided to follow in his family’s footsteps and become a teacher within the Sioux Falls area. Mr. Jensen takes a different perspective into teaching. “I like that my days are almost never the same. It's always something different every day, and then every year is a new group of kids. It makes my days and years fly by. Getting to know the different kids throughout the year is a great part of the job as well,” he explains. His flexibility and ability to analyze his students’ understanding allows him to adjust pacing and planning to fit the kids’ needs. He also explains how the new kids coming into his classroom every year allow him to make new memories and connections with a variety of students. The memories of previous years and his optimism for the next year fuel Mr. Jensen to teach at such a high level.
Teaching also brings difficulties; in fact, Mr. Jensen explains how the challenges he faces in his job can affect his personal life. “I really enjoy teaching, but it's still a job. I've had to work hard over the years to learn how to keep my schoolwork at school. When I started teaching, I didn't do a good job of that and struggled with feeling overwhelmed,” Mr. Jensen describes. Teachers across the country struggle with work-life balance, so Mr. Jensen offers a solution for districts to allocate more time for teachers during inservice days for planning, collaborating, and grading to alleviate some of that stress. Mr. Jensen has positively impacted many students and their view of learning. With an eager attitude and an innovative perspective into teaching, Mr. Jensen will continue to benefit the Harrisburg School District moving forward.