By Mason Poepperling
For many college students, an instructor or professor, can make or break a class. If a student goes into a class with a negative mindset regarding said class, and on top of that have to deal with a teacher that doesn’t necessarily teach in a way that’s beneficial to the student, things tend to go wrong for them.
However, in May, the Hutchinson Community College Student Government Association determined that one instructor, above her peers, was able to not only teach in a way that was best for the most students, but went above and beyond when it came to helping students with their education – chemistry instructor, and this years Educator of the Year, Jennifer Wiens.
“Pride is probably the most obvious one, because you’re being recognized by students for the contribution you’ve made to their education,” Wiens said when asked about her feelings on winning the award. “I’m humbled by it, because of all the great teachers that are at Hutchinson Community College, they chose me. I don’t know if I’m any more deserving of this award than any others that have been nominated and many others that haven’t been nominated.”
With a background in Fisheries Biology – which hasn’t been of much use in the middle of Kansas – Wiens journey into teaching was not one that happened overnight. With Kansas’ Department of Wildlife and Parks on a hiring freeze, Wiens decided to start substitute teaching in order to help provide for her family.
It was during this time that chemistry teaching snuck its way into Wiens life.
“I started substitute teaching in our local school district, and through that job I realized I liked teaching. I started working part time on my teaching certificate to be able to teach high school science,” Wiens said. I finished that course work and interviewed for my first job and they said “you’re gonna teach chemistry”.
So, now armed with a background in chemistry teaching, it seemed as though this is where Wiens journey into the world of teaching would end. However, this wasn’t the case.
While teaching high school chemistry, Wiens husband acquired what she describes as “his dream job”, a job that he holds to this day 25 years later, and around that same time, another opportunity revealed itself to Wiens.
“When my husband got his dream job and this job opened I thought ‘I’ll apply’ and here I am,” she said.