Teacher welcomes kindergartners for 41st straight year at Omaha Public Schools

An elementary teacher at Omaha Public Schools is going into her 41st year in not just the same district, but the same classroom.
Published: Aug. 16, 2023 at 5:34 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Nebraska’s biggest school district is welcoming students for a new year. For one teacher it’s become a routine, as she’s been proudly doing this for four decades.

One by one for the last 41 years. Ms. Hensley has welcomed Franklin Elementary kindergarteners on their new journey.

“I love to see the growth they make when they come because it’s the same families I had many years ago when they were students in here,” she said.

Not only has she spent 41 years at the same school, but also in the same classroom.

“I started part-time and I had 40-something kids sitting all over the floor. Mr. Anderson came out and said ‘Would you like to be full-time?’ and I said ‘Yes,’” Hensley said.

While her classroom hasn’t seen much change through the years, Ms. Hensley’s style of teaching has.

When I first started it was a lot of socialization and play and interaction. We had milk, we had crackers and we had centers. We did finger play and songs and stuff. Now we focus on the academic aspect of it,” she said.

In four decades, Ms. Hensley has impacted more lives than she can count. Something OPS officials find invaluable, especially with the teacher shortage.

“You think of how committed she is and the excitement. You’ll feel that energy and that excitement for it and that’s what our teachers have,” said Matthew Ray, interim superintendent.

Ms. Hensley says she still has at least another 10 years ahead of her. So until her last day this is what she wants her kids to know.

“Before you leave this class always remember I love you, you matter, you can do anything and I believe in you.”

OPS will welcome the rest of its students back on Thursday.

Wednesday was elementary and entry-level students in middle and high school.