Faces of 501: Anthony Hensley and Katie Hensley Bivens

Katie Hensley Biven, left and Anthony Hensley are both proud graduates of Highland Park High School.

Anthony Hensley and his daughter Katie Hensley Bivens have worked for Topeka Public Schools for a combined 50 years and are both Highland Park High School graduates. Hensley is currently teaching government at Highland Park High School, while Bivens is the assistant principal at Ross Elementary.

Anthony Hensley, graduated from Highland Park High School (HPHS) in 1971, started teaching at HPHS 40 years ago, worked at Capital City Schools for 28 years, and came back to HPHS during the 2010 school year. Hensley is also the longest serving member of the Kansas Legislature, with the 2018 session being his 42nd session.

Bivens, graduated from HPHS in 2002, and started teaching at Whitson Elementary 10 years ago and is currently is the assistant principal at Ross.

Hensley was inspired to go into teaching because of influential eighth grade teacher Sherman Oyler, “He was a real role model and inspired me to become a social studies teacher. It was a natural fit for me since I've always had an interest in American history and politics.  And, I've always believed it's important to give back to the people in our community who have supported me throughout my career in education and politics.”

Bivens was similarly inspired. “I always knew that I wanted to be a public servant due to my upbringing.  I have a great passion for giving back to my community, as learned from my parents and grandmothers. Teaching seemed like the perfect fit since I could help my community directly by impacting its future and educating our citizens. As an administrator, I believe that I make an even greater impact by helping teachers grow in their crafts and transforming a school that allows for students to grow in all areas of life.  I believe I am a change agent and education is my tool for making a difference in my community. “

“I followed in my dad's footsteps in the sense that I have a servant's heart.  He has a great passion for the east side of Topeka, as do I, and we both share the belief that we can help others be successful.  I learned the meaning of "hard work" from my dad and my drive to always do better is from him,” Bivens said.

Hensley continues, “I am very proud that Katie decided to become a teacher.  From that standpoint, she followed in my footsteps.  But now that she is an Assistant Principal, she's following the example of her aunt Daryle (my sister) who became an administrator and retired as a high school principal.

The Highland Park community is near and dear to both of their hearts, with both of them working in east Topeka schools, “I was born and raised in Highland Park and live in the house I grew up in. Upon graduating from Washburn, I couldn't find a teaching job in Topeka, so I moved to El Dorado where I taught 9th grade American Civics. I returned home that summer (1976) and successfully ran for the Kansas House of Representatives. The following year, I was able to get a teaching job at Highland Park and have worked in Topeka Public Schools ever since. I've been very fortunate that the 501 school board has granted a leave of absence for second semester to serve in the Legislature,” said Hensley.

Bivens wants the best for her schools. “Topeka Public Schools needs the best people.  We need people who are passionate about the city of Topeka and its youth.  Specifically, Topeka Public Schools needs people that can relate to our students; people who can walk the walk and talk the talk, people who know what it’s like growing up in Topeka and are willing to give back, and people that want to make change in the life of a child. Our students need and deserve the very best.”

Do both have advice they would like to give to students? According to Bivens, “Work hard, be kind, don't give up, and always remember where you came from.”

And from Hensley, “The same advice my friend Dale Cushinberry always passed on to students when he was principal at Highland Park, ‘You can get there from here."

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