New teacher aims to pick up where mentor left off

60 certificated employees hired to refresh Tahoma's ranks

It’s always a challenge to follow a retired teacher who is synonymous with the subject and the school. But it helps if that teacher was also your mentor.

Tahoma High School alum Reni Jenks has stepped into the animal science classroom of her former teacher and community treasure, Marie Page. Jenks, who grew up showing animals, enrolled at Washington State University to study animal science, but it wasn’t until her now-husband, Tyler, decided to earn a teaching degree that she started to seriously consider a career in education.

“I had people telling me, ‘You should be a teacher!’” she recalled. Their instincts turned out to be right. Jenks taught animal science at South Kitsap High School last year, then found out that Page was leaving her longtime position at THS. Expecting their first son, Tyler and Reni decided to move back to Maple Valley to be close to family, although Tyler (also a Tahoma alum) commutes nearly two hours each way to teach animal science at North Mason High School.

“I’m very excited to be in Tahoma and back in this community,” Jenks said. “I definitely want to continue to build on what Marie has built. … It’s exciting and intimidating at the same time.”

In addition to the current animal science classes, she hopes to be able to offer advanced level classes, as well as add some opportunities in the FFA club for career development events, leadership development events, public speaking and more.

“As Reni replaces Marie Page, she brings not only all she learned as a student at Tahoma, but also what she has learned in her time in WSU’s Agriculture program and teaching in South Kitsap HS,” said Martin Barber, the director of Career and Technical Education for THS. “Our students are fortunate to have such an amazing person who understands the culture of Tahoma and our Agriculture Program.”

In her free time, Jenks said she enjoys hiking, being outdoors and raising and showing French Lop and Netherland Dwarf rabbits.

Tahoma hired more than 60 new certificated employees. For the full list, click here. Each year, the district hires employees to replace those who retire or move. This year, officials also added new positions to meet growth, reduce classroom sizes and increase support.