Taj Jensen

Tacoma Public Schools: Mann ES

In his 13 plus 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 a failing school with 97% receiving free and reduced lunch (general poverty). When he arrived there, achievement was low and the school had been negatively impact by high rates of criminal activity in the surrounding community. However, Jensen was able to turn Tillicum into a National Title I School of Distinction in just five years. At the state level, Tillicum as won a School of Distinction award, among others, for closing the achievement gap and achieving high progress in reading and math. In 2014, Jensen was given the opportunity to replicate his success at Tyee Park – a task that he considers a privilege. In a school where 96% 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 leveled the playing so that students have equal access to education for all students. In just two years, Tyee Park was also a School of Distinction. Jensen is currently in his third year at Mann Elementary in the Tacoma Public Schools (3rd largest urban school district in the state), where he is serving a similar demographic and needs as in his previous two schools. While at Mann, the school went from a Targeted School (lowest 10% performing) to a School of Distinction (Top 5% in academic growth) in just two years’ time. Jensen is also the co-founder of schoolturnaroundwa.com an educational consulting groups that utilizes a systematic process to acquire a clear picture of each site. The comprehensive process identifies specific strengths and focus areas and initiates an individualized plan based on agreed upon outcomes.