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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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
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.
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.”
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.