MAS Law would like to congratulate Samantha Jensen on becoming the newest recipient of our MASter Teacher Award. This award is bestowed to educators who exemplify the commitment and drive to change our community in profound and meaningful ways. Teachers like Miss Jensen are gifted with the ability to become difference makers for their students, creating a solid foundation of knowledge and understanding that will carry them throughout their lives.
Miss Jensen has been teaching for over 12 years. Raised in Buffalo, New York, she moved to Southlake, Texas in middle school. Affectionately referred to as “the mom” by her friends, Miss Jensen has always had a desire to help others realize their potential. Even as far back as kindergarten, she knew that becoming an educator and assisting students to discover their own passions was something she was destined to do.
After graduating high school, Miss Jensen earned a scholarship to the University of Texas at Tyler, where she received her bachelor’s degree in Interdisciplinary Studies. Miss Jensen then began her teaching career at Dr. Bryan C. Jack Elementary School, located in Tyler, Texas. Here, Miss Jensen would begin to hone her talent for teaching, discovering exactly what type of teacher she wanted to be.
After teaching in Tyler for about three years, Miss Jensen relocated back to the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex in 2014, where she has been teaching 2nd grade at Richard J. Lee Elementary, located in Coppell, TX, for the last eight years. Lee Elementary, featured in D Magazine, is well known for its “net-zero” status; using methods such as geothermal and solar energy, the school’s eco-friendly design limits its carbon footprint by ensuring that the energy it produces from renewable resources is equal to or over the energy it uses. In addition to its impressive net-zero classification, Lee Elementary, which teaches K-5, boasts a revolutionary teaching model. There are no traditional classrooms and hallways; instead, the school is an open model that is comprised of multigrade-level houses where the teachers, referred to as designers, help foster collaboration between the different grades. The school refers to this as Vertical House Learning.
Lee Elementary’s new and inventive ways of teaching have proven to be the perfect environment to help facilitate Miss Jensen’s creativity and natural talent to find inventive ways for her students to succeed. As an advocate for teaching real-life problem-solving skills, much of Miss Jensen’s teaching methods focus on models such as Leader in Me and Challenge- Based Learning. Both concepts prepare students by using real world examples and equipping them with the tools they need to solve problems they may face in their daily lives. “It is not just about memorizing solutions to problems, like we were taught when we were young; it’s about giving them the tools to solve the problem and letting them work it out in their own way,” says Miss Jensen.
One such example is Lee Elementary’s impressive eco-pond. Dubbed the “Pond Lady” by her friends and colleagues, Miss Jensen spearheaded the development of the eco-pond in an effort to provide an additional way for Lee Elementary’s students to learn using real-world applications. Located next to the back entrance of the school, you can often find Miss Jensen maintaining the pond and cultivating new ways that she can utilize it to teach students about ecology and sustainability.
Creating inventive new ways to educate students is not the only reason why Miss Jensen has become such a valuable asset to Lee Elementary’s faculty. Emboldened by her own experiences in life, Miss Jensen is often called upon to assist children that are behavior- challenged or have experienced past trauma. Such a challenging undertaking may seem daunting to some, but Miss Jensen does not shy away from this, instead seeing this as an opportunity to encourage growth and positive change, saying that “many children exhibit behavior such as this for a reason, and being able to understand that reason and find a way to reach these children at such a young age can help them in anything they try to accomplish in the future.”
After interviewing Miss Jensen and having the privilege of listening to her story, it is of no wonder why Lee Elementary selected her as Teacher of the Year in 2019. It was truly an honor to meet Miss Jensen and recognize her hard work and dedication with our MASter Teacher Award. Her passion for teaching and commitment to her students is truly inspiring. From everyone at MAS Law, thank you Miss Jensen for everything you have and continue to do for our community.