Ames High School teacher Kent Jahn is the Iowa Industrial Technology Educators Association’s “Teacher of Excellence” for 2015. The Association presented the award, which goes to one Iowa high school industrial technology teacher each year, at the state Career and Applied Technology Conference, Oct. 30.
Jahn, who has been teaching Industrial Technology for 33 years with 18 of those years at Ames High School, says he has taught everything from Building and Trades to Computer Applications and Entrepreneurialism.
Jahn says over the course of his career he’s learned to adapt instruction to meet students at their level.
“I have students of high ability in the same class as those with low ability. Every student can benefit from being in Industrial Technology,” he said. “I don’t want the low ability students to get behind and stressed out or fail nor do I want the high ability student to be held back. What I try to do is provide a basic outline of instruction to the point where I can get them started and then make myself available to provide instruction and personal guidance where it is needed.”
In Industrial Technology, students learn to problem solve and persevere, Jahn said.
“It’s an important life skill to develop the willingness to try and retry and then try again and realize that it is OK and that it is a part of learning,” he said..
Jahn says the value of Industrial Technology goes well beyond learning to use CAD software and honing woodworking skills.
“These students are learning that they do have abilities and they can do things that they never thought they could do,” he said. “They develop confidence and take pride in doing a job well and when they take a complex drawing or a finished wood project home and show it off to their family, there is a real sense of accomplishment and that feeling of ‘look what I did’”.
Jahn says he’s still learning, too.
“When there are so many things that are changing with technology and improvements of machines, it is really hard, if not impossible, for someone to learn everything,” he said. “So many of the things that I do with my classes I have had to learn along the way. I learn as much as the students do and sometimes I am learning from them.”
Above all, Jahn says his belief that each of his students is special has kept him in his profession and motivated him to keep improving as a teacher.
“I can’t imagine myself doing anything else,” he said. “There are a lot of things that make teachers think about leaving the teaching profession but none of them have anything to do with the students. The students are what make teaching worthwhile and they keep all of us coming back.”
Editors note: This marks the second consecutive year an Ames High School Industrial Technology teacher has won this award. Craig Boylan was the 2014 “Teacher of Excellence.”