By Achelle Reynoso
Special to the Sun-Gazette
lemon cove – The students of Sequoia Union Elementary School District will not be the only ones eager for their first day of school this year. Beginning the academic year with them, will be new Superintendent and Principal,Perry Jensen.
When asked what he is most excited for in his new position, Jensen said, “The direction we are working on is to build Sequoia Union to be a complete charter school district. Working with this staff we have an exciting opportunity…since we are an agricultural community, for our focus to be agricultural science and the agricultural industry. Some of our board members have a working relationship with UC Davis and other universities, we really want to build on that focal point so that when our students are leaving eighth grade, they are ready to enter high school already having foundations in the careers of technical education and the agricultural field.”
Building on a foundation of resources takes quite a bit of discipline. But Jensen is no stranger to discipline, in fact he thrives on it given his military background.
Jensen was born into a military family at an Air Force base located in Japan. He spent the first seven years of his life there before he and his family moved back to the United States.
After moving to Winton, Calif., Jensen graduated from Atwater High School in Atwater, Calif,. He then followed in his father’s footsteps, and joined the Air Force. He served for 23 years in various positions such as a vehicle mechanic, Military Chief Instructor, and as a Civil Engineer.
Jensen has his bachelor’s degree in education from Southern Illinois University and his master’s degree in educational administration from Chapman University. However, it all started while he was in active duty when Jensen began student teaching at San Bernardino Valley College as an automotive shop instructor.
“My whole intention was to be in the military and to be a vehicle mechanic. I started teaching that shop class and then later on, while still on active duty, became the chief instructor of the Air Force Leadership School at Brooks Air Force Base. After doing that for almost 3 years, I had completed my bachelor’s degree and was at a point in my career where I was ready to separate from active duty because I really wanted to pursue my education. I went from active duty to the reserves and came back to California. From there, I began teaching at Mendota Unified School District and was there for 16 years,” said Jensen.
After moving to Fresno, Calif., in 2000, Jensen has taught first, second, and fifth grade. He has been an instructor for a Title III program for non-English speaking students, a Resource teacher, was the first Learning Director in Mendota, and went on to become the McCabe Junior High School Principal.
In addition, prior to coming to Sequoia Union, Jensen has been in administration since 2005 working as the Vice Principle for Valley Community Schools, Head of School for Big Picture Elementary, and the Executive Director of Valley Arts and Science Academy.
As a husband, a father of five, and many years in education, Jensen believes the impact one has on students is truly the most rewarding part of education.
“Children are our greatest natural resource. For me, the greatest thing in education, is that you don’t know the little mustard seed that you have planted. When students come back years later and they say, ‘You have no idea what you did for me,’ that is what makes education so fantastic,” said Jensen. “These children deserve the best that the world has to offer them and I really have a lot of humility in being apart of that. It is really humbling to be apart of education. People are trusting you. They bring their children to you and trust you to do what is best for them.”
Being new to Lemon Cove, Jensen is enthusiastic about joining the Sequoia Union community.
“It really is a community. The children grow up knowing that there are people in their life that are really there for them. When you are at a school this size, you have that opportunity to really build a relationship with the children,” said Jensen.
Sequoia Union Elementary School District begins their first day of instruction for the 2017-2018 academic year on Aug. 10.