Jennifer Hendrix joins a large group of exceptional educators within USD 443, as she was recently named a Kansas Master Teacher. Hendrix is the 28th USD 443 to earn the distinguished award.
“I know my students will shape the world beyond the walls of my room in powerful but unknown ways,” Hendrix said. “I believe my greatest contribution as an educator is to reveal the best qualities of my kids: their own curiosity, compassion and innovation.”
Hendrix strives to create a community of learners where complex critical thinking experiences are shared and skepticism and argumentation, tempered with respect, are welcome. Hendrix teaches physics at Dodge City High School and says her classroom ‘is their space…which supports their study of the natural world and contains the tools they see fit to experiment with and argue the meaning of their results.’
Her use of standards-based grading gives all students, despite varying abilities, a flexible environment in which to move beyond their own boundaries. Hendrix chooses not to teach from a textbook and in her classroom, failure has value because in the scientific world – and elsewhere – learning occurs with failure.
The student-lead teaching strategies adopted by Hendrix, such as inquiry-based learning, collaborative problem-solving, and peer review sessions, challenge students to take risks and think creatively without fear of failure and interference.
Hendrix received her bachelor’s in biochemistry in 1999 from St. Edward’s University in Austin, TX, and a master’s in education from the University of Notre Dame in 2001. She began her career teaching science courses in Tennessee, then spent a year and a half in Santiago, Chile, as a fourth-grade ESL instructor. From 2003-2014, she taught a variety of science courses at Cimarron, Kansas, High School and in 2014, began teaching physics at Dodge City High School.
The number of students taking physics at DCHS has increased nearly 75 percent in the last few years, according to Principal Jacque Feist.
“She attracts students to her courses that other teachers are unable to,” Feist said. “Students will work hard for a teacher who works just as hard, if not harder for them – and this is what Ms. Hendrix does for all of her students.”
The recipients were selected by a committee including representatives from Kansas Association of Elementary School Principals, Kansas Association of School Boards, Kansas Association of Secondary School Principals, Kansas Parent Teacher Association, Kansas National Education Association, Kansas National Education Association–Student Program, Kansas State Board of Education, and the 2016 Kansas Master Teacher class.
The 2017 Master Teachers will be honored on Master Teacher Day to be held April 5 at Emporia State University. On that day, the teachers will present a seminar at 2:30 p.m. in the W.S. and E.C. Jones Conference Center in Visser Hall. The teachers will then be honored during a social hour at 5:45 p.m. in Webb Hall Lobby of Emporia State’s Memorial Union followed by the dinner and awards ceremony at 6:30 p.m. in Webb Hall.
Emporia State established the Kansas Master Teacher awards in 1954. The awards are presented annually to teachers who have served the profession long and well and who also typify the outstanding qualities of earnest and conscientious teachers.