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Taj R. Jensen
Tyee Park Elementary School
Clover Park School District
Lakewood, Washington

In his nine years as a principal, Taj Jensen has gained the ability to take struggling schools and turn them into thriving, sustainable learning communities. From 2009-2014, Jensen was the leader of Tillicum Elementary in Washington. When he arrived there, achievement was low and the school had been negatively impacted by high rates of criminal activity in the surrounding community. However, Jensen was able to turn Tillicum into a National Title I Distinguished School in just five years. At the state level, Tillicum also won a School of Distinction award, among others, for closing the achievement gap and achieving high progress in reading and math. Last year, Jensen was given the opportunity to replicate his success at Tyee Park—a task that he considers a privilege. In a school where 96 percent of students participate in the free or reduced lunch program, he understands that basic needs must be met first. On-site dental visits and flu shots, a weekend meal program, after-school tutoring, and adult ESL classes for parents are just some of the ways that Jensen provides equal learning opportunities for the students of Tyee Park. As an instructional leader, he is visible and active, and encourages collaboration among students and staff alike. Jensen holds a B.A. from the University of Redlands as well as an M.Ed. and two Professional Certificates in Teaching and Administration from City University.