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The most rewarding part of teaching for West Union’s teacher of the year is when a child learns how to read. Mary Jenkins has been a teacher at West Union for 13 years and was chosen as this year’s teacher of the year recipient from her peers and other faculty members.
She said that she was very shocked when she found out that she received that honor, but is very humbled and honored. “I feel that there are teachers here that deserve this honor as much or more than I do. I work with a great group of teachers here,” said Jenkins.
Jenkins is in her second year of teaching Kindergarten, but has also taught first, fifth, sixth, seventh grades, and pre-GED classes. In the first five years, she taught at the school’s Career Center. Jenkins said that she has loved teaching every grade level.
Nevertheless, she reiterated that the most rewarding part of her being a teacher was teaching children how to read. She likes to see the progression of reading and the students find reading exciting.
“Reading is very important because it affects every area of life,” she said, “Learning is a lifelong journey. Everything is a building block and everything builds on each other. As an educator, I want to make a difference in a child’s life.”
Jenkins teaches reading, mathematics, language arts, health, science, and social studies. Students are able to have individual instruction, small group instruction, and large group instruction. The students also have hands-on learning centers in which they can utilize various creative skills.
Julianne Littlejohn, 6, said, “She’s a good teacher. She teaches us good. I like to be in her class because she is nice.”
Once you enter Jenkins’ colorful classroom, it is obvious to see that different seasons are represented as well as various ways of developing academic success in the student’s minds. There is a word wall, a mathematics area, there are watercolor butterflies hanging from the ceiling, there is a money learning area, and even botany is represented in the grassy heads that are growing in the windowsill and the Easter tree that is sitting in the middle of the room on a table.
“You have to love children – you have to have the passion to want them to succeed,” Jenkins said. “I think education is a rewarding field. My goal for my students is to make them achieve and learn more, while also making learning interesting.”
Parker Owen, 6, said, “She teaches us to read. She also teaches us how to count money and how to plant seeds and take care of plants.”
In her spare time, she takes care of her mother, sings, goes deer and turkey hunting, reads, and spends time with her family. She is a member of Philadelphia Baptist Church.
Jenkins is married to Bruce Jenkins and they have five children: Andy Jenkins of Oxford, Tanya Billington of Southaven, Holly Reeves of Jackson, Miss., Tina Nehls of Southaven, and Katie Jenkins of Oxford. Their grandchildren are Will Jenkins, 15, Bailey Billington, 14, Barrett Billington, 9, Tyler Nehls, 5, and Ellie Nehls, 2.