Heather Jenkins, 2010 winner of the Distinguished Teacher Award

Dearborn, Mich., elementary and charter school teacher Heather Jenkins received the Mensa Education & Research Foundation’s Distinguished Teacher Award in July. It was presented at a special reception as part of the organization’s Annual Gathering at the Hyatt Regency Dearborn. Ms. Jenkins teaches mathematics, social studies, language arts and reading at Keystone Charter Academy in Belleville, Mich. She was nominated for the award by her fourth grade student Nicholas Eller, who is also a Mensa member (both pictured).

In his nomination essay, 10-year-old Nicholas wrote, “Ms. Jenkins gave me a math book that is two levels above my classroom level book because she saw in me that I love math and want to be challenged more. She pushed me out of my comfort zone into more difficult and challenging work to keep my brain working hard.” His eagerness to learn, with the guidance of Ms. Jenkins, has led to a double promotion from the fourth to the sixth grade.

“This is the motto that I had for my class this past year: anytime my students were getting frustrated because they actually needed to ‘think’ to figure something out, we repeated this:  ‘If it ain't burnin', you're not learnin'!’” Ms. Jenkins said at the reception. “I would ask them if they were frustrated when I noticed the furrowed brows, or tears in many cases, and when they answered, ‘Yes,’ my response was, ‘Good, that means you're learning something new!’”

Ms. Jenkins earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Wayne State University in Detroit, Mich., in 2002 and a master's degree in the art of teaching from Nova Southeastern University in 2007. She has been an educator for seven years.