While the typical inductee resembles a savvy veteran with many years of experience, Philip Jenkins, a 33-year-old seventh and eighth grade mathematics teacher at B.B. Comer Memorial High School, reached Hall of Fame status after only six years of teaching.
At the 45th annual Teachers Hall of Fame banquet held May 10 at Jacksonville State University, Jenkins was one of three teachers out of 55 nominated statewide to be inducted into the 2012-2013 class of the JSU Teacher Hall of Fame.
Jenkins called being selected as a nominee from his school, the county and by the committee at JSU while surrounded by men and women who had 20 or more years more experience than him a “humbling” experience.
“It’s one of those things where if you had a bucket list, you’d put a check beside it,” Jenkins said. “I never thought it would happen so young in my career, but I’m honored that it has. I’m thankful for the confidence Talladega County and my school had in me to represent them.”
The university established the Teacher Hall of Fame in 1969 under the direction of Dr. Houston Cole, serving as the president of the university at the time.
According to the university’s website at http://www.jsu.edu/edprof/tsc/fame.html, the Teacher Hall of Fame honors public school teachers who currently teach subject matter to students at least 50 percent of each school day. Teachers must also maintain exemplary standards of behavior and ethics, exhibit leadership, be enthusiastic about teaching, demonstrate competency in subject matter, work well with colleagues and administrators, and constantly seek to encourage, inspire and motivate students toward greater accomplishment.
A Winterboro native and graduate of Winterboro High School, Jenkins attended four years of seminary school before earning his bachelor’s degree in math education from Jacksonville State University.
“I’ve always had a passion to work with youth and I loved math, so I felt it was the best of both worlds and I could combine that,” Jenkins said. “My family was very poor and I was the first in my family to graduate from college. I want to be a mentor to these kids and let them know they’re not bound by circumstances or their environment. They can break the mold.
“The last thing I want from my students is to pass my class, but to fail at life,” Jenkins said. “I want them to be successful in both and that’s something I instill in them throughout the year.”
Jenkins previously taught for two years at Oxford Middle School and Winterboro High School before taking his current position at Comer.
“He’s an excellent teacher admired by his students,” Comer Principal Judson Warlick said. “He was originally selected by his peers for this honor, so I think it speaks highly of him. It’s been a pleasure working with him. We’re honored to have him at (Comer) representing the school and the county.”
One of the first teachers to receive training on project-based learning in Talladega County, Jenkins said he implements PBL elements by providing his students real-life scenarios to spark problem solving skills development.
One project in particular helped earned Jenkins a grant from the Sylacauga Art Council.
“Our students did a project called ‘The Art of Math,’” Jenkins said. “Our students created a contemporary or modern art piece using math. We held an art exhibit where we sold our artwork and made roughly $250-$300 on that art exhibit.”
Jenkins also assisted his students with a project involving opening and maintaining a worm farm. This project was displayed at the Technology Showcase held at Childersburg High School April 4-5.
“Our students conducted surveys asking fellow students to see how many of them fished and what kinds of bait they used,” Jenkins said. “They created graphs, charted the growth of worms and established a worm farm with a population of almost 3,000 that we maintained inside the school.”
William Atkinson, an eighth grader at Comer, has been a student of Jenkins the past two years.
“He’s funny, he helps us and he doesn’t push us too hard,” Atkinson said. “His teaching method helps me learn more than I originally could if I was just (given) a book and told to read it.”
Rayna Herringdine, a 10th grader, takes an Algebra II/Trigonometry class at Comer and for a few months, was a student of Jenkins who was filling in for her previous teacher, Angela Lawson, while she was on maternity leave.
“It was really different because I wasn’t used to his teaching methods at all,” Herringdine said. “After the first two weeks, I really figured out that what he does works. Things really begin to click for you sooner than it had been clicking and I was able to remember more things two weeks later than I would’ve remembered previously. He’s so enthusiastic that it rubs off on you.”
Contact Shane Dunaway at firstname.lastname@example.org