VERDE VALLEY EDUCATOR OF THE WEEK: Jess Kennen
Seventh- and eighth-grade science teacher, Clarkdale-Jerome School, Clarkdale
CLARKDALE – Though Jess Kennen teaches science, he really teaches students.
That’s what Steve Doerksen says about one of Clarkdale-Jerome School’s newest teachers.
What Doerksen means is how Kennen teaches his students, specifically, how he connects with the kids. Recently, the Clarkdale-Jerome principal explained how he was impressed with the focus of Kennen’s class.
“Picture this: triple-digit temperatures in the afternoon and as humid as a steam room outside, or so it felt,” Doerksen says. “Then picture yourself walking into a classroom in the afternoon at the end of the period, a time typically when the students and teacher are tired and beat.
“Now picture yourself scanning the classroom, eyeing every single student sitting at their desks, one by one. And this is what you observe: all eyes glued to Mr. Kennen, all heads turning in unison, following this master teacher’s choreography,” Doerksen continues.
“I saw it with my own eyes. Wow, was that impressive. As I scanned the classroom, even the tough kids, or rather those who “think” they’re tough, I noticed them too, wide-eyed, fixing their gaze on the instructor, unknowingly betraying their tenacious façade.”
It was later in life when Kennen decided to pursue an education in education.
“As I progressed in my schooling, I was torn between pursuing the education field, or natural resources,” Kennen says. “I chose the latter, and worked in the natural resource field through my twenties. In my 30’s as I grew as a person, I began to realize teaching was my real calling. My career in teaching has really given me a sense of purpose, and I really love my job.”
Kennen says he decided to teach middle school children because “it is such an influential time in everyone’s lives.”
“I really enjoy having a role in the development of these kids, helping them gain an upward trajectory as they move in to high school and beyond,” he says. “Every year I have kids in my classroom that are already developing bad habits and spiraling downward in their lives. There’s nothing better than watching some of those students turn it around and leave my classroom with a new direction.”
Kennen is using a GoFundMe page to be able to afford iPads for his classroom.
For more information, visit https://sites.google.com/cjsd3.net/kennen/home.
“I’m most proud of being a dad and watching my kids grow in to great little humans.”
“Albert Einstein said ‘Education is not the learning of facts, but the training of the mind to think.’”
DID YOU KNOW?
Kennen says that his “other kid is a 1972 BMW R75/5 motorcycle that I love to ride when I need a break.”
“I try to create a positive environment where kids can feel safe to be themselves and exchange ideas,” Kennen says. As an educator, it is difficult to prepare students for a work force where many of the jobs they will pursue don’t yet exist.
“I strive to blur the lines between traditional subjects to create an encompassing and varying real world environment.
“Under the blanket of science, any day in my classroom students will be utilizing technology, engineering, math, language arts, history and more.
“I also strive to instill soft skills like citizenship, creativity, responsibility, work ethic, cooperation and more that will help them regardless of the future they choose.”