Lillian Tsosie-Jensen who grew up in Manti recently received two prestigious awards but says what matters is that she helps Utah’s students succeed. Photo/ Lillian Tsosie-Jensen

 

Manti native is named Career

Guidance Educator of the Year

 

By Linda Petersen

Staff writer

Mar. 1, 2018

 

MANTI—Accolades make Lillian Tsosie-Jensen uncomfortable.

Jensen is a recent recipient of awards in her field of Career Technical Education (CTE).

The Utah Association of Career Technical Education (ACTE) is a division of the national ACTE, and the Utah division awarded Jensen the Champion for CTE Award (Guidance Division) and also named her the Career Guidance Award/Counselor of the Year.

Jensen, of course, would rather have the work she is passionate about be the center of attention instead.

That work, which she has contributed to in many ways throughout her career of over 26 years, is making sure all students have the greatest success possible in their education and in their careers.

The daughter of Scott and Susie Larson, Jensen grew up in Manti and said she had great teachers at Manti Elementary and later at Manti High.

A 1983 Manti High School graduate, Jensen attended Snow College and then Utah State University where she received a bachelor’s degree in drawing and printmaking with a minor in education. (She later earned a master’s degree in school counseling.)

Inspired by several of her former teachers, in particular her math and physics teacher, Les Good, Jensen went into teaching.

“I always wanted to be in service of people, in service of students,” she said.

For several years, Jensen was a math and art teacher.

Then her desire for her students to succeed led her to teaching CTE classes.

For the last eight years, she has worked for the Utah State Board of Education.

When she began there as a school counseling specialist, she was the only one doing that kind of work, “looking at the needs of students statewide, at the schools and their successes,” she said.

These days, Jensen oversees a staff of nine in Student Services which covers SafeUT (a student safety app), absenteeism, restorative practices, school counseling and equity and prevention.

In 2015 she was named Educator of the Year by the Utah Technology Council.

While she has been humbled by all of the awards, “that’s not why I do this,” Jensen said. “It’s because this work is so important, because the students need this support. I feel very fortunate that someone recognizes how hard I work on behalf of the students.”

Jensen had begun a doctoral degree in education leadership but hit pause when other priorities determined a different course.

She attributes much of her success to her parents.

“I could not have asked for better parents,” she said. “They did everything they could for me and worked very hard for my education. They gave up a lot for me to get my education.”

Although Jensen qualifies to move on to region competition with her Counselor of the Year award, she’s not sure she’s going to.

“I’m really just a worker bee,” she said. “It’s overwhelming to have that kind of attention.”

Jensen’s grandfather, Ben Tsosie, a tribal leader in the Navajo Nation and a member of the board of education, who, she said, really expected her to go into education, told her that one day she would be a school principal on the Navajo reservation.

“It’s a good retirement plan,” Jensen said. “I miss working with students directly.”

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