By Sherri Coner
In August, Eric Jenkins was named a Top 10 finalist for Indiana Teacher of the Year.
During a recent assembly at Franklin Community High School Indiana, Secretary of Education Katie Jenner officially announced this popular English Arts teacher’s win as 2024 Indiana Teacher of the Year.
Indiana Department of Education officials chose this Hoosier from 65,000 educators from across the state. But also, Jenkins is the first Johnson County teacher to ever be honored by this program which began in 1967.
Now in his 13th year of teaching, Jenkins has a master’s degree in literacy from the State University of New York as well as a master’s certificate in High Ability Education. As Indiana’s winner, he will be invited to attend professional development opportunities with winning teachers from all other states.
Fellow faculty members at Franklin chose Jenkins to represent the school in the statewide contest.
Even without winning the state’s prize in education, Jenkins’ students from English 10 honors classes and W131 dual credit loudly sing his praises.
Anni Tieu, 17, daughter of Don and Anna Tieu
“There are no wrong questions or answers in Mr. Jenkins’ classes. He guides us through thinking about things. He helps us expand our knowledge and gives us so much creative freedom. We can pick topics that we are interested in knowing more about.”
Audrey Culp, 20, Purdue University, daughter of Greg and Kelly Culp
“I felt safe to talk in his class and he taught me the importance of having my own voice and my own opinion. He was a very impactful person in my high school years. A lot of what he taught me I will remember for a very long time.”
Luke Fisher, 18, Butler University, son of Debbie Fisher
“Mr. Jenkins is very well versed in media and invites discussions. He’s also very laid-back. When some students wanted to do sketch comedy, he was the coach. We did a show in his classroom with great feedback. He was always the perfect person to talk to about a movie or book. He also helps you expand your ideas.”
Akiya Elschide, 16, daughter of Bryan and Wendy Elschide
“We look at different modes of writing and pictures and learn how to analyze and critique. Mr. Jenkins is very open minded and he always says, ‘What are your opinions?’ But he never judges us. He knows I love to read so he asks me sometimes about what books I’m reading.”
Luke Foraker, 18, student at Miami University of Ohio, son of Beth Foraker and Paula Gardner
“Mr. Jenkins is so dedicated. It seems like he loves everything he does and he loves all the students, too. He’s willing to do just about anything for his students. He’s pretty wonderful.”
Bella Wilde, 15, daughter of Casey and Ashley Wilde
“I was out of school for a week with Covid. When I came back I was really anxious about what I missed in class. He knelt down by my desk and asked if I had any questions. I’ve never had a teacher get down beside me before. He makes class extra peaceful and he explains things so well that I don’t feel lost at all.”
Ella Myers, 15, daughter of Michael and Erin Myers
“I love Mr. Jenkins. He’s great. We have time in class to do research, and we have a lot of creative freedom to learn how to analyze and write about a lot of topics.”
Lily Culp, 17, daughter of Greg and Kelley Culp
“His classroom is such a different environment. It’s so apparent that he wants us to learn in the best way possible. So, what works for us works for him. He challenges us without frustrating us. We also have a lot of group interaction. He’s incredibly humble and he is so deserving of this award.”