Eric Jenkins was, in many ways, a typical undergraduate student at Indiana University. Undeclared for his major during his freshman year, he faced unexpected health problems and a surgery. Once he returned to IU for his sophomore year, he was walking through Dunn’s Woods when he had what he described as a “lightning strike epiphany moment” and realized teaching was the best way for him to make the biggest impact on the world.
From that epiphany moment, Jenkins went on to get his bachelor's degree in secondary education in 2007 and is now an English teacher at Franklin Community High School. This month, he was named the 2024 Indiana Teacher of the Year.
After a couple weeks of letting the shock of being named Teacher of the Year sink in, Jenkins is now embracing the honor.
“I get to be the ambassador for public education for the state and get to share all the experience of being a public school teacher in Indiana: the good, bad, and the ugly, and really get to advocate for a new generation of teachers and for the ones who have chosen to stay,” he said. “It’s not about me being the best teacher. It’s just that I get to represent all teachers. I get to be the advocate and the ambassador. It's not about being the best, it’s about sharing what’s great about education.”