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Prescott High School’s Clark Tenney heading to Finland on Fulbright scholarship

Prescott High School Assistant Principal and PHS graduate Clark Tenney standing in front of a map pointing to Finland. (Mark Goligoski/Courtesy)

Prescott High School Assistant Principal and PHS graduate Clark Tenney standing in front of a map pointing to Finland. (Mark Goligoski/Courtesy)

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The family’s two foreign exchange students for the 2017-2018 school year: (Left) Joanne Yao from Taiwan and Soile Heikkilae of Finland in Salt Lake City in front of the Mormon temple where Clark and his wife, Sonya, were married. (Tenney/Courtesy)

Prescott High School Assistant Principal Clark Tenney is a small town guy with a big world perspective.

The 49-year-old Prescott alumnus spread his educational wings early in his career. He spent and his young family spent 12 years in Japan where he taught Japanese to American students. When he moved his family back to his hometown, Tenney was hired at his alma mater where he taught United States history and started a Japanese language course that still exists today.

Prior to his promotion to assistant high school principal this year, Tenney spent four years as principal at Abia Judd Elementary.

His international experience has clearly informed his educational perspective, both as a classroom teacher, coach and administrator. Tenney is a strong proponent of foreign exchange programs and studies that encourage students to think beyond the comfort of where they live. The Tenneys hosted two foreign exchange students for the 2017-2018 school year – one from Finland and the other from Taiwan.

So it seems fitting that Tenney is one of 10 educational administrators from across the country to be selected for a Fulbright Finland Foundation scholarship that will send him on a 10-day educational sojourn to Finland, globally renowned for its educational prowess.

He departs on March 6.

The Fulbright Finland Foundation is an independent, not-for-profit organization based in Helsinki, Finland. The organization supports the “internationalization of education and research in Finland” and endorses creating links between educational institutions in Finland and the United States.

Tenney is the second Prescott High School faculty member this year to be selected for a Fulbright educational scholarship. French teacher Cathleen Cherry is one of 76 teachers that this year was awarded a Fulbright Teachers for Global Classrooms grant. The year-long scholarship includes course work, a national symposium and a two to three-week summer international experience in a developing nation.

Indeed, Cherry was the one who informed Tenney about the Fulbright Finland program.

Excited about this opportunity to expand his professional horizons, Tenney said he wants to see up close some of the world’s most renowned schools with an eye toward sharing with his colleagues here. He, too, welcomes the chance to do some touring, including a visit with the family of his foreign exchange student, Soile Heikkilae, who lives north of Helsinki.

A student of global education systems, Tenney said he appreciates viewing the strengths and outcomes in other places with the aim of enhancing offerings in the Prescott Unified School District. He said he welcomes the chance to see first-hand what Finnish teachers do in their classrooms and how some of those approaches might be replicated in Prescott classrooms.

Beyond the visit, Tenney, too, is excited to be meeting with other administrators across the country. The other nine men and women represent district and charter schools from as far away as Connecticut to as close as Colorado.

Prescott High Principal Mark Goligoski calls Tenney the “best choice for this opportunity.”

“Anyone who knows Clark knows he is a collaborator,” said Goligoski who wrote Tenney’s letter of recommendation. “He’s always looking forward. He’s an advanced thinker.”

District Superintendent Joe Howard also declared Tenney to be the “perfect guy to send to Finland.”

He said he has no doubt Tenney will be a quick learner able to translate some of Finland’s “awesome” approaches to education so as to enhance district, as well as state, practices.

Tenney’s selection enables him to “go beyond the Prescott island,” Howard said.

All educators need to “poke their head” into what is happening in other places across the nation and world to remain fresh and focused on how best to prepare students for life beyond Prescott, Howard said.

“Clark Tenney will never be stagnant,” Howard said. “He’s a bit underemployed. He could do anything he sets his mind to.

“He’s always looking at best practices and what is happening in the world, and thinking about how to bring that world view to kids … He’s a big picture man.”

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