PE Names Top Teacher

Published 5:19 pm Tuesday, April 30, 2013

PRINCE EDWARD-There's always the direct route from college to the classroom, but Paul Jenkins took a different route.

Though he thinks teaching was always in the back of his mind, he would move out west after graduating from Hampden-Sydney College in 1995 with his winding career path leading through jobs with UPS and at a cardiology clinic in the medical records department. He first dabbled with becoming a teacher by taking some education courses at the University of New Mexico. When he moved back home to Prince Edward, he started substitute teaching.

Jenkins taught physical education, anatomy, U.S. History, and government-basically becoming a long-term sub.

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“…Actually, it worked out well,” Jenkins assesses. “It gave me a whole variety of subject matter that I had to teach so-and different types of students that I had to work with. So I think that my first year of subbing was great practical experience in the classroom.”

The career switcher began teaching full time the next year.

“…I think after a few weeks of-of course it was very frustrating being new to the profession, but I just had a feeling that it was right, that it's where I belonged,” Jenkins recounts.

Now, some ten years later, Jenkins, who teaches tenth and twelfth grade English at the County's high school, was selected from a list of six honorees earlier this month as Prince Edward County's overall school division Teacher of the Year. The 1991 Prince Edward County High School graduate grew up in the Rice area.

High School Principal Craig Reed noted that Jenkins is an “awesome teacher. We're very fortunate to have him as a part of our team.” Reed explained that Jenkins helps lead the English department, is on the school improvement team, has outstanding benchmark scores every six weeks, helps coach the ACE team, has been honored as the teacher of the month.

“I can honestly say that the success that we've seen over the last few years is because of teachers like him in our building,” Reed said.

He also notes, “He (Jenkins) goes above and beyond to help all of our students and he really pushes our seniors, particularly late in the year, to make sure that they get what they need in order to graduate.”

Two teachers from each of the schools were also honored at the special program including Marianna Dudley, a first grade teacher with 15 years of teaching experience; Sheila Giuriceo, second grade teacher with 17 years of teaching experience; Jeff House, physical education teacher at the middle school with 33 years of teaching experience; Shena King, an Algebra I teacher at the middle school with 21 years of teaching experience; and DeVonna Blevins-Marble-a high school English teacher with 11 years of experience.

Nominees, selected by their peers, were tasked to write an essay incorporating specific topics. Prince Edward Public School Endowment (PEPSE) selects the teacher of the year.

An anonymous donor has provided funds to support the program. Each nominee receives a $500 award, with the overall teacher of the year receiving an additional $500.

For Jenkins, becoming a teacher continues a run in the family.

“My mother (Kathryn Jenkins) was a teacher here at Prince Edward County Elementary School for years,” says Jenkins. “And she was one main inspiration for me to kind of get into the career.”

His grandfather was also a teacher, as well as some of his siblings.

“So, in a way, it's kind of in the family,” Jenkins cited.

He also cited, “I think I get the most fulfillment out of seeing (students) move on and become successful adults. I think that…every so often I get a student that comes back to me and tells me the impact that I made on their life. And that probably gives me the most satisfaction in teaching.”

As far as classroom teachers, Jenkins notes the impact Coach House had on him as a sixth grader.

“…Coach House, he was…very definitely a role model for me, someone that I looked up to when I was younger…You know there really aren't too many male teachers and so he was someone that I kind of really enjoyed being in his class. I looked up to him,” Jenkins said.

He also credits his English teacher Rachel Overstreet, who was his high school English teacher.

Jenkins reflects on many of the teachers he had as a student who are still teaching.

Jenkins dad, Winbern, who was a high school grad, was also an encouragement to keep up his education and to get into teaching.

“My mother was the practical inspiration because she'd actually done it…and my father was definitely-for someone who didn't go to college, he was very supportive of me in that regard as well,” Jenkins said.