SMS staff member helps students to keep moving forward

SMS staff member helps students to keep moving forward

More than 40 years ago, Scottsburg Middle School staff member Hank Jentzen left his home state of New Jersey with $140 in cash and a backpack. Where he started his journey was not nearly as important as where he finished his journey years later.

With his ambition and his backpack, Jentzen set his sights on traveling the western United States, and when he reached his destination nearly 2,000 miles later, he began working as a laborer on construction sites.

“I enjoyed the freedom of the road,” Jentzen said.

Three years after leaving for the West, Jentzen became an installation repairman for a telephone company. He started as a lineman and literally moved up by climbing poles with a set of hooks and belt.

“After working various construction jobs in Colorado, I met a friend who was a telephone contractor,” Jentzen said. “He convinced me the job had a future with good pay, and if I could climb a pole at least 40 feet tall, he could get me a job.”

He took the challenge his friend said was a requirement for the job, grabbed some hooks and a belt, and learned how to climb a telephone pole.

“The following week, I was headed to Texas to start my career in the telephone business,” Jentzen said. “I have been in telephone operations my whole life since then, so my friend was my mentor and my inspiration.”

After working in the telephone industry a few years, Jentzen married his wife, Ann. The couple have been married for 37 years and have two children, Kelly and Kevin, who both graduated from Scottsburg High School. Kelly is an attorney for Catholic Charities in Washington D.C., and Kevin is attending Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, pursuing a degree in computer and information systems with a concentration in networking systems. He works part-time as an IT technician for Scott County School District 2.

Jentzen said starting a family was a defining point in his life.

“Parents think they are watching their children, when in reality, their children are watching them,” Jentzen said. “I enrolled in college and attended night classes and applied for management positions at Verizon.”

Twenty years after he began working as an installation repairman and after the company he worked for was sold to Verizon, Jentzen went to college to earn a degree beyond his high school diploma. In 1994, he earned his bachelor’s degree from Indiana University Southeast, and he also has a certificate in negotiation skills from the University of Notre Dame.

“What ‘Rudy’ is to Notre Dame football; I am to Notre Dame academics. I’m in the books,” Jentzen said.

With hard work and pushing himself to finish his education, Jentzen became a logistics supervisor at Verizon and was in that role when he retired. As a supervisor, he was in charge of 26 employees at 12 logistics sites in four states.

“I have had several managers help me with my career. I learned from each of them,” Jentzen said. “Our jobs were constant projects to be completed with deadlines and high-stress levels. In 1990 when we were sold to Verizon, my new manager was always calm with a sense of humor. His wisdom was stress is self-induced. There will always be deadlines and problems to fix. Planning, organizing, a sense of humor, and the right mindset reduces stress. I practice his philosophy daily.”

Later, Jentzen was elected to the Greater Scott County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, serving 10 years. He was named vice-president and president. As a board member, he worked with others to grow the organization, create an educational scholarship fund, and add high school students to the board membership.

“I was lucky to have great board members on the team who were goal oriented and could make things happen,” Jentzen said. “The Chamber is still doing great things for our community today.”

Now in his retirement years, Jentzen wanted to give back to his community and help at SCSD2. Last year, Jentzen signed up to be a substitute teacher and discovered his love for helping middle school students.

“I enjoyed being a substitute for the middle school and working with the students,” Jentzen said. “I enjoy helping students with their studies and homework.”

When a position as a teacher’s aide while helping with supervision became available, Jentzen applied for the job at SMS. In his new role, Jentzen enjoys helping the students with their schoolwork and helping them prepare for their futures.

“Everyone needs a helping hand at times, and hopefully, I can help students find what they are good at and encourage them to go after their dreams,” Jentzen said. “…There are three things I hope students take from their time working with me: where you start in life is not as important as where you finish, never give up, and education is a way out of poverty.”

Jentzen uses his life lessons learned to help the students at Scottsburg Middle School. At Scott County School District 2, Jentzen’s story is our story. Your story matters. You matter.