Pegeen H. Jensen, M.S. '89, CGS/Teacher Leadership '12

For more than two decades, Pegeen Jensen has been a highly respected teacher of children in grades K through 3. She is also a well-known instructor and mentor to her colleagues in guiding young children how to write.

Jensen has taught in the primary grades at the South Colonie School District for 24 years and started her twenty-fifth year last fall as a third grade teacher. She also is the literacy facilitator and Summer Literacy coordinator for her building, Saddlewood Elementary. In fact, according to University at Albany Department of Reading Chair and Associate Professor Virginia Goatley, Jensen is one of a generation of “teacher leaders” recognized for their “strong content knowledge and for providing professional development.”

Goatley continued: “Pegeen exemplifies the concept of a teacher leader in numerous ways. For example, though she did not need any additional graduate coursework, she enrolled in our UAlbany Certificate of Teacher Leadership program to learn more about how to teach teachers. Her goal was to make sure she continued to reflect on her practice and revise her professional development offerings to draw on recent and current models of practice.” Pegeen's coursework has allowed her to lead colleagues through curricula”r challenges while keeping student needs in the forefront.

In addition, she plays an active role in UAlbany’s M.S. in literacy degree. Over the last 10 years, the University has placed graduate students in her classroom to provide them with a field experience in learning how to teach children to write. Pegeen’s classroom is an excellent example of effective instruction on writing and our students always come back with numerous examples to share with their peers,” Goatley added. In recent years, Jensen also has taught the writing course in the M.S. program.

Peter Johnston, Vincent O’Leary Professor in UAlbany’s reading department, said: “I’ve spent a lot of time in her classroom, and I’ve documented some of the terrific ways she engages her students, particularly the language she uses in the process. … Because of Pegeen’s wonderful writing instruction and her grasp of the theory of teaching writing, my department asked her to teach our graduate-level class Teaching Writing, B-6. Her students rated her as an instructor as a 5.0 on a five-point scale.” One student-evaluator commented, “Pegeen is one of the most amazing teachers I have had throughout my entire school career!” Another said, “I learned so much new information, I cannot wait to apply it to my future classroom.”

A recipient of the New York State Reading Association (NYSRA) Literacy Educator of the Year Award, Jensen serves her district in many capacities, including grade level coordinator and member of Saddlewood's Site Base Committee and the Language Arts Instructional Council. She leads South Colonie teachers in a wide variety of study groups, in-services and book clubs. Other Capital Region schools, such as Guilderland and Scotia-Glenville, have turned to her for professional development for their teachers.

“I have met many excellent teachers,” Johnston concluded, “but Pegeen is the embodiment of what we want our alumni to stand for.”