By: Claire Quigle
Hello and happy “where do you work?” Wednesday! This week, we are highlighting alumna Jessica Jensen (BA ‘08 Elementary Education, specialization in k-8 math education, Ph.D. ‘17 Teaching and Learning in Mathematics Education.)
Jensen is from Council Bluffs, Iowa, and is currently in her fourth year as an assistant professor in the School of Education at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, California. Here, she works as an assistant professor of elementary mathematics Education, and also co-coordinator of the Multiple Subject Teacher Education Preparation (MSTEP) program.
Before pursuing her Ph.D., she taught 7th-grade mathematics and reading at Parkview Middle School in Ankeny, Iowa for 4 years. While working on her doctorate, she also taught teacher education courses at Iowa.
As an assistant professor of elementary mathematics education, Jensen loves that she gets the opportunity to show teachers how amazing math can be when it is taught in a way that is creative and helps students understand the reasoning behind various patterns and procedures. She knows many people have had negative experiences with mathematics, so she enjoys helping people change their perception.
“Teaching teachers how to teach math is a chance for me to share my own passion with my students, and seeing their own mindsets and teaching practices develop right in front of me is extremely rewarding,” Jensen says.
She is grateful for her time at the University of Iowa College of Education and for former clinical professor, Vicki Burketta.
Jensen says during her undergrad she took a middle school math methods course with Burketta, who taught her how to use her brain in ways she didn’t even know could work. She says this completely changed her view of mathematics.
“Once I had her class, I knew I had to be a math teacher and help other students experience what I had experienced in her class,” Jensen says. “That led me to be a middle school mathematics teacher. I ultimately knew I wanted to be like Dr. Burketta when I ‘grew up’ and applied to work on my Ph.D. at Iowa so I could work with her, but she, unfortunately, passed away from cancer before I got to work with her again.”
Even though she didn’t have the chance to work with Burketta, Jensen says she still got to work with amazing faculty and peers during my time working on her Ph.D. and has no doubt that she is where she is today because of Burketta and everyone else she worked with on her educational journey at Iowa.
“Even though I live 15 minutes from the ocean now, I regularly miss Iowa City, Jensen says. “It’s such a special place, and I’m glad I realized that before I moved away.”
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