Spotlight: 10 Questions for Kristen Lents (IN '17)March 7, 2018
When her students are distracted in the classroom by difficulties at home, math teacher Kristen Lents (IN ‘17) focuses on making learning relevant: “I strive to make connections to their lives and the real world.” Kristen won Indiana’s 2017-18 Milken Educator Award at Harris Academy in Brownsburg on January 23, 2018.
1. What went through your mind when you heard your name called at your surprise notification?
Kristen Lents: I was extremely surprised and humbled.
2. How did your students respond to your Milken Award? What impact has it had on them?
Kristen: My students responded in a super positive way. They were excited for me and congratulated me a million times.
3. How did you end up in education?
Kristen: I have literally always wanted to be a teacher. My earliest memories are playing school. I always asked my teachers for extra school supplies so my classroom at home was legit. I would also save up any money I earned or received as a gift and beg my mom to take me to the teacher supply store.
4. Who are your role models as an educator?
Kristen: My role models in education are so many of my previous teachers. There are a handful of teachers who had an incredible impact on me.
5. What memories stand out from your first year of teaching?
Kristen: As I look back on my first year of teaching, I realize that the first year was a trial by fire of sorts. There is so much personal and professional growth that happens in the early years of teaching. I am thankful for those early years and also happy they are behind me.
6. What are students most likely to remember about their time in your class?
Kristen: My quirky sense of humor and that I took the time to see them as individuals.
7. What’s your biggest challenge in the classroom?
Kristen: Convincing students to set aside their outside worries and focus on learning while they are at school. Many of my students have difficult home lives and show up to school worried about their basic needs. This makes it difficult to get them engaged in topics that they struggle to see as relevant. I strive to make connections to their lives and the real world.
8. How do you think you’ll use your $25,000 Award?
Kristen: I am not sure how I will use the money. I have three daughters, so I will probably save it for their futures in some way.
9. What would you say to a student who expresses interest in a career in education?
Kristen: I would tell them that education is a hard job but one in which there can be so much reward and fulfillment. We need educators who are passionate about students and not just subject matter.
10. What’s your definition of success?
Kristen: As a teacher, I measure my success by the positive impact I have on my students’ lives. If I am impacting them and seeing the fruits of my labors, I feel successful.
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