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  • Tehya Tournier

Coming from the Heart

With a heart drawn to helping children, Sensee Jahnagile has found a home in the Waterloo School District.

“I decided to stay in the Cedar Valley and teach in Waterloo because I love the diversity, students, and hardworking teachers that surround me,” she said. “As we all know, some students in all places of the world, use school as their safe haven and I wanted to be a part of making those students’ lives a little better and happier.”

Originally from Maple Grove, Minnesota, Jahnagile always loved working with kids. From working at a daycare to nannying throughout high school, she found her way to UNI studying Elementary Education with a minor in math.

“As I grew up, I realized that these kids are the future and they need a positive role model and someone who sets high expectations for them.”

As she started her teaching journey at UNI, Jahnagile said she always thought that she wanted to be a 5th-grade teacher, but after student teaching experience with 7th-grade math, she said she knew that's what she wanted to do.

“Not only do I love the subject, but those kids are at the age where they need positive people encouraging them and pushing them to do their best,” Jahnagile said.

Currently, Miss Jahnagile is in her first year of teaching 7th-grade math at Bunger Middle School and couldn’t be happier with her decision of being part of the Waterloo Schools since graduating from UNI in May of 2022. Jahnagile said she feels the Waterloo Schools is unlike any other school district because the foundation, district, staff, and community go above and beyond for the students.

The Foundation serves our students AND our staff. Back in August, Executive Director, Hannah Luce spoke at the New Teacher Institute as they finished their orientation for this coming school year. She preached that not only are we here in the community to do work for our student's educational journey but our teachers as well. Luce also shared her ‘why’, for being a part of the education and non-profit field and we asked our new teachers to share theirs too. Miss Jahnagile was among these new teachers and just like her colleagues, her voice is just as important as everyone else and she wants it to be heard in order to make a difference in her student's lives.

Being a first-year teacher can be extremely challenging but Jahnagile has learned a lot since the school year has begun. One thing she pointed out that not only she but other first-year teachers may struggle with as well, is maintaining a work-life balance. Yet, that has led her to ask questions and continue to be a lifelong learner personally and professionally.

“Whether that’s asking my co-workers how to do something, asking a fellow 1st-year teacher how they’re managing the balance of teaching and life, or asking my students how I can improve. I’m always all ears because I have a long teaching journey ahead of me and I constantly want to improve and better myself as a teacher and citizen in the Waterloo Community,” she said.

She takes pride in being able to impact each student, being inclusive, and sometimes even showing them her silly side!

“I love to be real with my students, tell stories, and just interact with them. Yes teaching is important, but I also value getting to know my students and understanding where they come from,” she said. “I’m huge on building relationships and I think it’s so important to have a students’ trust in order for them to learn and be successful in my class.”

Whether it be handing out math assignments, making memories of sharing candy with her students or balancing relaxation time to unplug after school hours, the Waterloo Schools, community, and WSF are happy to have Jahnagile making impacts and setting a standard of excellence for our students.

“Learning how each student is different and how I can best support each one is why I love to teach and create an atmosphere where everyone feels welcomed and included.”

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