When Joe Jensen was growing up, he had dreams of becoming a mountain man like Jim Bridger. While Jensen might not have transformed the land like Jim Bridger did, he has transformed many students’ futures in the Orem community.
One of Jensen’s biggest career accomplishments has been leading the change process at Orem Junior High, significantly affecting the culture and proficiency levels for teachers and students. His hard work and efforts were noticed at Orem Junior High, which led to him receiving the 2014 Utah Association Secondary Schools Principals (UASSP) Middle School Principal of the Year award.
“It is incredible what good public schools can do, but it can only be done with significant support and effort from a large team of individuals working together,” Jensen said. “No matter where I’ve been, I value dearly the relationships I have with team members.”
Jensen recently served as an adjunct faculty member at BYU in the EdLF department. He co-taught Leadership for Learning Communities and Instructional Leadership 2 with David Boren.
“There is so much that can be done in public education to create a fabulous culture for teachers and students, and that all begins with leadership. It has been a sacred experience for me to work with those future school leaders,” Jensen said. “I believe deeply that what [we] do together in our class has very real implications for tens of thousands of future students in our schools. It has been a blast to be in a teaching role again with that group of students who will have a massive collective influence over the next decades.”
The students in Jensen and Boren’s classes haven’t been the only ones benefiting from the classes. Jensen has found himself growing and learning.
“I also know that the biggest beneficiary of teaching [at BYU] has been me,” Jensen said. “As I read and dialogue these ideas with David and the students, I know my own perspective and abilities have been sharpened and broadened.”
Jensen comes from a family of educators. Three of his four grandparents were teachers, and his own parents were both teachers. When Jensen came back from his mission, he looked to his family for career inspiration.
“As I considered what I wanted to do with the rest of my life, I knew only too well that education wouldn’t make me monetarily wealthy, but I also knew there was nothing I would rather do,” Jensen shared. “For my life to have meaning was much more important than material wealth.”
When Lone Peak High School opened in 1996, Jensen transferred there from American Fork High School. After four years of teaching at Lone Peak, Jensen decided to return to BYU to complete his master’s degree in educational leadership. Then in 2013, Jensen returned again to BYU to do his doctorate in education.
“BYU has impacted my career at every turn. While I lack diversity in my formal education from the standpoint of experiencing different colleges, I certainly have been blessed by the influence of the McKay School of Education,” Jensen said. “Whether it was my formal schooling or other development opportunities through groups like BYU’s CITES program, I am who I am today as an administrator because of BYU.”
Jensen is currently the principal at Timpanogos High School. His dissertation was published in the June issue of the National Association of Secondary School Principals Bulletin, a top-tier journal. He calls himself an endurance junkie and finds joy in trail running, training for marathons, or in ultra-endurance mountain bike races. He currently lives in American Fork with his wife and six children.
Writer: Janine Swart
Contact: Cindy Glad, (801) 422-1922