Position: Eighth Grade ELA Teacher
School: Union Middle School
School District: Union School District
City, State: San Jose, California
About the Nominee: Lis Jorgens is obsessed with teaching (in a good way). She constantly researches, plans, revises and designs lessons for her eighth grade Language Arts classes and her Thrive elective. Ms. Jorgens “relaxes” with a professional development book each week, and her vacations are spent revising lessons, catching up with research and developing new units. Ms. Jorgens has an intolerance for boredom in her classroom. She wants her class to be an experience from the moment that students walk into the door, and she sets up the physical classroom environment in a way that fosters reading and writing. Her classroom library has more than 1000 books, and she spends hours scouring library book sales and thrift stores looking for titles that will interest all students. She expects 100 percent engagement every minute, and she works hard to make that a reality. She strives to engage all students by including daily 45 second clips of video and spending hours on creating engaging Google Slides. An administrator at her school observed her classroom one day and was impressed to see students lean forward and cheer. They can’t help but be hooked into the content. Ms. Jorgens is funny, and she brings that humor into each lesson. As one of her students said, “She makes sure I laugh at least once during class.”
At the school level, Ms. Jorgens collaborates daily with colleagues. She also implemented UMS Reads Together, a school-wide book club for students, staff and parents to participate in three times per year. Ms. Jorgens works with colleagues and students to select three interesting and challenging books. She has also been a member of the School Site Council for three years. She works to challenge students at all levels, whether they're special needs, at-risk or gifted. When she saw a need to challenge her higher-achieving students, she created an embedded honors program. Students can participate in honors whether they have an official designation or not, and it means that they aren’t tracked into separate honors courses.
Through her work with the District Writing Committee, Ms. Jorgens helped create the eighth grade Language Arts benchmarks and provide Common Core professional development for teachers. In addition, she trains teachers throughout the county in the Expository Reading and Writing Curriculum (ERWC). Her trainings receive rave reviews, including these comments from participants: “Wow..the best training I've been to in 5 years!” After these trainings, multiple districts and county offices have asked her to come train their teachers and staff.
Ms. Jorgens improves school for students, parents and staff. Students want to be in her class because, in their words, “She explains really really well. She makes sure you know everything.” Countless students return to campus to check in and share positive life experiences that they believe Ms. Jorgens made possible for them to one day achieve. She has a wonderful rapport with the parents of her students and is a teacher other teachers want to teach with. She stretches teachers to improve their practice and professional knowledge. Ms. Jorgens is a life-long learner and an avid reader with an amazing work ethic. Her excitement and enthusiasm for Language Arts is contagious. Being in Ms. Jorgens' classroom infects students and teachers alike with a love of Language Arts. She is without a doubt one of the best teachers you could meet!