Rachel Jensen sits at her desk at Sandrock Elementary School, where she works as a secretary. Once a social worker for hospice patients, Rachel and her husband, Travis, and their three sons have lived in Craig for four years.

Photo by Nicole Inglis

Rachel Jensen sits at her desk at Sandrock Elementary School, where she works as a secretary. Once a social worker for hospice patients, Rachel and her husband, Travis, and their three sons have lived in Craig for four years.

Rachel Jensen is looking at the faces of the future

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“I came from a small town called Kimberly, Idaho, that’s near Twin Falls, Idaho. We came here because of my husband’s job. He works at the high school as an assistant principal, Travis Jensen.

He was an elementary P.E. teacher for nine years, and he got his master’s degree and we just looked for jobs close by, and decided we needed to go further out because Idaho’s education is ... they’re just making more and more cuts. They’re worse off. They are about 10 years further back than we are.

Before we moved here, I worked for nine years as a social worker for Idaho Home, Health and Hospice. I loved that work. The death thing doesn’t really bother me. I really enjoyed working with that population.

It was a really stressful position having young kids. There was this person that was dying and needed to talk, then there was my kid who was sick who was more important.

I came across some really cool people. It was funny, some people you’d talk to about dying and you wanted to go with them. They were so excited. For them it was like the end of this life, the end of their temporal body and they’re just going to go up to heaven and it’s like, ‘Take me with you.’

Other people, you could just see the fear and you felt so much for them and you wanted to help them just to comfort them.

Kimberly is actually a lot like Craig and we were even the Bulldogs, the Kimberly Bulldogs. But we were red and so I had to get used to the blue.

Even when my parents came to visit us the first time, my mother thought it was this armpit of a town we’d be living in, but they just thought it was a really cute little town.

We have three boys that are the epitome of their father. They’re 12 (Terran), 8 (Korben) and 7 (Bowen). I love the boys. I don’t have a girl, so I can’t compare.

Our youngest was supposed to be a girl the entire pregnancy. When I had my ultrasound, the doctor guaranteed it was a textbook girl. His baby book — it’s all written. ‘We’re having our first girl,’ and everything and I just kept it.

The doctor said he would come paint our nursery blue if it ended up being a boy. When it ended up being a boy, I sent him a paintbrush. And a picture.

I started working for the school district, and this is my third year and my first year in this position. I started as a special education secretary, then the next year I was a long-term substitute for a special education sixth-grade class.

I always felt like an average student. My grades didn’t come easy for me. When I had kids, I wanted to be an involved parent because I had always felt stupid. I wanted my kids to excel; I wanted them better than me.

I love the kids at school and joking around and teasing with them. I love that they have this fun innocence about them. When they look at you and they’re trying to decide if you’re teasing them or not, I love that look. Then you laugh and they know you’re teasing and they laugh, too.

I love this job. You wouldn’t guess it from my desk, but I’m all about organizing and getting things together and helping people. I love helping people.

I have a lot of respect for teachers. They work hard for these kids. I butt heads with teachers just like all parents, but overall they’re there to do what’s best for kids.

I don’t believe in a God where we’re judged for our actions. He loves us, basically. He knows that we make mistakes and He loves us.

Working with the (hospice) families you had to work with a lot of angry people. Sometimes it was really worth it, and sometimes there are just people you can’t help.

My favorite was working with children who were dying. Because the way they looked at life. The parents were the ones who were just falling apart. The kids were so overly mature about the situation, your heart just went out to them and you were just so impressed with them.

But it’s trying to help people realize, no matter what their belief system is, it’s all going to be OK. Just relax.”

— Interview by Nicole Inglis

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