Teacher Tuesday: MCC’s Jodi Mortensen, it takes a community.

March 17, 2020

Teacher Tuesday: MCC’s Jodi Mortensen, it takes a community.

By Kate Krieger, MCP Staff Writer.

Teacher Tuesday is a presentation of Metalworks. Metalworks is a small, family-run company with facilities located in Ludington and Manistee, manufacturing metal office filing systems. Be sure to show your support by liking the Metalworks Facebook page here.

Mason County Press is featuring area educators each week in a series called “Teacher Tuesday.” We will be choosing different educators from Mason County.

SCOTTVILLE – Jodi Mortensen teaches third grade at Mason County Central’s Upper Elementary School. She always knew she wanted to return to Mason County or somewhere closer to home after she graduated from college with her teaching degree. A 1991 graduate of Ludington High School, Mortensen went on to Michigan State University, graduating in 1995 with a bachelor of art degree in teaching and then returning to receive a master of arts in curriculum and teaching in 2001.

Mortensen said she credits a lot of her upbringing and the teachers she had inspired her to seek a degree in education.

“As a child, I had great teachers, Mrs. Johnson, Mrs. Carney, Mrs. Jury, Mrs. Krieger, Mr. Kovar, Dr. Tabor and Ms. Salamin) who I wanted to be like,” Mortensen said. “They were kind, caring, made learning fun and inspired me. My family also stressed the importance of school and education. I had family members who were teachers and encouraged me to be a teacher as well. My family and teachers made a difference in my life and I felt teaching was the way I could make the greatest difference in the lives of others.”

With 23 years of teaching already under her belt and working in a variety of classrooms from first grade to eighth, Mortensen has received a lot of different experiences in the educational world.

“I have taught students from first grade through eighth grade,” she said. “I did my teaching internship in a first grade classroom at Holt Public Schools for a year. After my internship, I spent a summer teaching at-risk middle school students from the Detroit Public Schools through a program called Horizons Upward Bound at Cranbrook in Bloomfield Hills and a year substitute teaching. Then I taught sixth, seventh and eighth grades at Pentwater Public Schools for three years.”

Mortensen enjoyed her time working at Pentwater, but she still wanted to be even closer to home and then an opportunity opened up that she couldn’t resist.

“I enjoyed teaching at Pentwater, but I decided to look for a job that would be closer to where I lived after I got married and moved,” she said. “I applied for an eighth grade U.S. History position at Mason County Central Schools and was fortunate to be hired by the district. As a teacher at MCC, I taught eighth grade U.S. History for seven years, eighth grade math for three years and this is my 10th year teaching third grade. It’s hard to believe I have been teaching at MCC for 20 years already.”

No matter where she was teaching or what grade level she was working with, Mortensen’s experiences all have one thing in common.

“One of my favorite things about teaching is getting to know my students,” she said. “I love to learn about how they see the world and to learn their life stories. They are fun to be around, creative and insightful. I also enjoy seeing them ‘light up’ as they learn something new or find success after struggling through something that was difficult to learn. I love teaching math and seeing my students get excited about it. I also enjoy the books that our class reads together and the sense of community that forms from reading a great book together.”

Mortensen credits the support from her co-workers and the MCC families for their ongoing support of the students and each of their educational journeys.

“I have had a lot of support from parents,” she said. “It’s rewarding to see the emotional, social and academic growth each student makes in nine months as a result of parents, teachers and support staff working together. Another favorite thing about teaching is the people I work with. I work with a dedicated, passionate group of colleagues who help each other out. We support each other at work and personally. I am forever grateful to the amazing support the district gave my family and I when my daughter was born prematurely at 27 weeks. The acts of kindness I see made by my students, parents and colleagues everyday reminds me that there are still a lot of good people in the world. Teaching gives me hope that my children and grandchildren will live in a better world.”

The outer lying support from the community has also been great Mortensen stated. She is excited to see that more and more community members, businesses and organizations are investing in supporting education.

“I am excited that our community is seeing that students and schools would benefit from more support,” she said. “The Mason County District Library in Scottville has been amazing. They started the Unbound program that allows our students to check out books online from the district library. The library delivers books to the school and we hand them out to the students who then return them to the school when they are done. My students have been so excited about these books. It’s a wonderful service to get books into the hands of kids.

“My students were also blessed by donors from the community who sponsored students so that I could order books for them when I did my Scholastic Book Club order. Last year my students each received ten free books and this year my students will each receive five free books from sponsors. What a blessing. Hand 2 Hand ministries also provides food bags for students on the weekend who are in need. The students really depend on these and look forward to getting it. 

“The Kids Hope Mentor program is another program that has impacted some of my students.  The students really look forward to meeting with their mentor once a week and it really helps them to have that one on one time with an adult. Our PTC does an awesome job raising money to provide our students with some amazing field trips and technology. 

“The MCC Education Foundation also raises money for teacher grants and my students have benefited from technology and materials that I was awarded. Law enforcement has been awesome providing support to keep our students safe and to form positive relationships with the students. Scottville Police Chief Matt Murphy stopped by at recess the other day and played four-square for a few minutes with my students.”

Besides all the support from the community, Mortensen also is excited to see that more and more grants are being rewarded in the schools to offer more programs and support for all the students.

“This year through a grant received by the West Shore Educational Service District, there is a social worker from the ESD who comes to work with one of my students once a week,” she said. “This is making a difference for this student. These people and other programs are such a blessing to our students. It takes a village to raise a child and it is a relief to know that I have support in helping our kids. I hope these programs continue and will grow.”

For those students wanting to pursue a career in education, Mortensen has one piece of advice.

“You have to love working with students,” she said. “It is a rewarding job but demanding. You must be passionate about education and want to serve your community. I feel a misconception people have about teachers is that we get done at 3:30 and have the summer off. There are a lot of hard-working people in our community who work long hours and teachers as well as other school staff are some of them. 

“I spend 10-15 hours a week outside of school working. Grading papers, entering grades, planning lessons, finding materials for small groups, making copies, filling out paperwork for special education testing or other testing, putting together book orders, completing professional development logs, attending workshops, creating slideshows for lessons, making phone calls, entering data, analyzing student data, hanging artwork, planning field trips, leveling books for my classroom library, writing in CA-60’s, documenting interventions, serving on curriculum teams that meet after school, attending after school IEP’s and thinking about how I can help students who are struggling are all responsibilities that I’m not able to get done when I’m with my students. In the summer, I’m attending workshops, working on curriculum and cleaning my classroom. All my colleagues put in a lot of time to do their best to serve our students.”  

This story is copyrighted © 2020, all rights reserved by Media Group 31, LLC, PO Box 21, Scottville, MI 49454. No portion of this story or images may be reproduced in any way, including print or broadcast, without expressed written consent.

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