9/17/2015 - Jehning Named Semifinalist for State Teacher of the Year
Pomperaug High School physical science and biology teacher Brian T. Jehning was named the Region 15 Teacher of the Year and is one of 16 semi-finalists for Connecticut Teacher of the Year.
In addition to his teaching responsibilities, Jehning is an Administrative Dean of Students, Site Coordinator for the Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences, Link Crew Coordinator, and High School Science Curriculum Coordinator.
As a state semi-finalist, Jehning will interview with the State Selection Committee regarding education issues and current trends. Four finalists are chosen from among the semi-finalists and a panel of state educators will attend site visits to see the finalists in their classroom. Last year’s Region 15 Teacher of the Year, Sarah Kate Walkup was also a state semi-finalist.
“I’m so honored to be recognized by my colleagues, parents and students and hope I can represent Region 15 well,” said Jehning.
Region 15 Superintendent of Schools Regina L. Botsford introduced Jehning at the back-to-school staff convocation.
“You bring your own unique talents to all that you do,” said Botsford. “You are a student-friendly teacher and model the highest level of professionalism and caring.”
Education, however, was not the first career choice for Brian Jehning. Originally studying biomedical engineering and doing cancer research at a small biotech company, Jehning’s volunteerism for the America Reads Program changed his path forever. He then applied to the University of Connecticut NEAG School of Education.
“Spending time reading and doing math problems with students in Hartford each week became something I couldn’t live without,” he said.
His first teaching job upon graduation was as the Grade 8 general science teacher at Pulaski Middle School in his hometown of New Britain, Connecticut. In 2008, Jehning joined the teaching staff at Pomperaug High School where he teaches Grades 9 and 10 biology and physical science, and is the site coordinator for the Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences. Jehning points to his contributions with the Academy as his greatest accomplishment to date.
“Through a great partnership with Education Connection in Litchfield, I have experienced a great leadership role and Pomperaug’s Academy is renowned as a top program in the state,” said Jehning. “I am proud to have been a part in developing this program into one of our school’s most distinguished programs.”
Passion, dedication, and responsibility are qualities that, according to Jehning, are key ingredients for a great teacher. Jehning embodies those qualities as a co-leader of the PHS Link Crew program, coordinator of the Digital Academy, member of National and State Science Teachers Associations, and voice of Pomperaug Varsity Football.
Outside of Pomperaug High School, Jehning sits on the Board of Directors for the Human Resources Agency of New Britain. As a member of the Board and with his teaching background, he has been able to influence the further development of Head Start and School Readiness Programs for low incomes families of New Britain. He also joined S.M.A.R.T. (Southbury and Middlebury Acting Responsibly Together) in an effort to coordinate some community resources to bring additional smoking and drug prevention programs to Pomperaug High School. He also has been a high school baseball umpire in the Hartford area for 13 years.
“My activities and community involvement are other ways I stay connected with kids,” said Jehning.
Frequent collaboration and regular teacher evaluation are two factors that Jehning believes can strengthen the teaching profession. Sharing ideas and collaborating between administrators and teachers, among colleagues, and between teachers and students are crucial, he says, to the success of any school. Frequent mini observations – announced and unannounced—by an evaluation committee, as well as by students, can help teachers move forward as professionals.
The Connecticut Teacher of the Year Program began in 1952. Sponsored by the Connecticut State Department of Education, Talent Office and a number of corporate, organizational and individual sponsors, it begins with the selection of a Teacher of the Year in each district and continues at the state level. The Connecticut Teacher of the Year then becomes eligible for national honors.
As he prepares for the next set of interviews, Jehning reflects upon his overriding belief that the most important thing a teacher can do is to make a connection with students.
“Great teachers give 100 percent of themselves on many levels, including taking time to prepare meaningful and engaging learning opportunities for students. I believe all students can succeed and that high expectations promote success, and holding students to those high expectations shows how much we care.”
Jehning earned his Sixth Year Degree and Initial Administrator Certificate (092) in May 2015 from Southern Connecticut State University. He attended and graduated from University of Connecticut, earning a Master’s Degree in Education and a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology.
Brian Jehning lives in New Britain with his wife, Michele and two children.