Thomas Jefferson

High School | Home of the Spartans

Teacher, World Traveler, and Friend

Posted 12/18/2015 by Morgan VandeRiet

photo courtesy of Jenn Sonheim

This TJ Spartan teacher won’t let anything stand in the way of what she loves.

No matter what she is doing, Special Education English teacher Jenn Sonheim has always considered TJ a number one priority. She combines some of her passions outside of school with teaching in order to have a positive impact on her students and the community.

Sonheim was born and raised in Denver and is a graduate of Abraham Lincoln High School, where she “was involved in everything, much like now,” participating in many music programs, theater, and drama club. She received a degree in music from Metropolitan State University and continued her education at the University of Northern Colorado, where she earned her Master’s Degree in Special Education. During college, Sonheim focused most of her attention outside of her classes to traveling and working. Over the course of eighteen years, Sonheim has taught many subjects, but she mostly enjoyed working with music, drama, and art. Before coming to TJ, she worked at a montessori academy, a residential treatment center, with Littleton Public Schools, Cherry Creek Public Schools, and Aurora Public Schools.

This is Sonheim’s seventh year at TJ, and she is more dedicated than ever to the school. She currently teaches Creative Writing, Inclusion Introduction to Literature, Inclusion World Literature, Reading and Writing for Independence, and Modified American Literature. One of her students, junior Damien Burke, commented on her classes, “She makes it really interesting and she’s a really creative teacher.” Sonheim is very passionate about her job, and shared, “I think teaching is a chance for me to be me, and it’s fun.” Additionally, Sonheim is the sponsor of multiple popular clubs at TJ, including the Harry Potter club (Fridays at lunch), Sign Language club (Mondays at lunch), Shakespeare club (meetings will begin in January), Lunch club (Wednesdays and Thursdays at lunch), Fashion club (after school on two Fridays a month), and movie club (meetings vary–contact Sonheim for more details). She distinguished Harry Potter club as being one of her favorites, saying, “it’s fun to hang out with other kids who like Harry Potter.” The sign language club is another one of her favorites, mostly due to the fact that it was initiated by her students. Years ago, some of her students approached her with the idea, and she was able to help their idea come to life. “It was originally started to help a student who was deaf and hard of hearing so that she could learn to communicate with other people. Then when she graduated we just kept it going, and this year we’ve got kids who are really interested, so it’s a lot of fun,” Sonheim explained. She enjoys these clubs, in addition to her other clubs, because she is able to share her passions with her students. Additionally, Sonheim has helped out with the Ski and Snowboard Club for the past few years; skiing is one of her favorite hobbies, and she cannot wait to get back out on the slopes.

Outside of school, some of Sonheim’s many interests include traveling the world, watching scary TV shows and movies, and participating in a fitness boot camp run by P.E. teacher Brittany Penn. “It was super awesome to see her drive for fitness. One thing that I totally admire about her is that she continually pushes herself,” Penn said. Sonheim loves to stay active, so skiing, hiking, and camping are some of her favorite activities during her free time.

Without a doubt, Sonheim has been a very influential person to many of her students. TJ graduate Jessica Holman explained, “She’s not just a teacher, but also a friend and a second mom to a lot of students.” Although Sonheim never had Holman in one of her classes, they were able to build a special relationship through working together on one of TJ’s past yearbooks and worked alongside one another during one of the school’s clean-up days. Holman continued by saying, “What I think is most special about Ms. Sonheim is her ability to really connect with the students.” Holman took advantage of the opportunity to travel on the Ireland, Wales, and England trip with Sonheim this past June.

Travel being one of her favorite hobbies, Sonheim has been the group leader for multiple trips abroad with students. In addition to the trip this previous summer, she took a group of students to Italy a few years prior. This upcoming summer, along with social studies teacher Victor Godoy, she is leading a group to Germany, France, and the Alps.

TJ has been a great experience for Sonheim and she is looking forward to several more years of teaching and influencing her students. “I hope to stay at TJ as long as they’ll have me… I meet fun and interesting people.”

Students interested in going on the trip to Germany, France, and the Alps should see Sonheim in room 217, Godoy in room 203, or visit the tour website.