(FOX 11) - Jamie Reese, an elementary school teacher in Simi Valley, has been named the 2016 Ventura County Teacher of the Year.
Reese is a teacher at Mountain View Elementary School in the Simi Valley Unified School District. She has eight years of teaching experience and currently teaches kindergarten through third grade students with emotional disturbances, officials say.
She found out about the honor Friday when her parents, local dignitaries and members of the media made a surprise visit to her classroom.
Principal Jenny Goldman said Reese has distinguished herself in several ways.
"It has been incredibly satisfying to watch her grow," Goldman said. "Teachers go to her for tech guidance and curricular collaboration. Parents go to her for emotional support and advice on managing behaviors in the home. Students go to her for just about everything. Every time I turn around, Jamie is bringing something new to the table."
Reese says her students are her inspiration and she works to build a bond with each one.
"If a student doesn't feel a connection with you, then nothing I have discussed will have impact or meaning for them," she said. "Connection is the glue that allows everything else to come together for a student."
Reese has also demonstrated leadership in integrating technology into the learning process, officials said. She's brought several new ideas to the campus, including flexible seating, facilitating project-based learning for all grade levels and piloting classroom audio systems -- which are now being installed throughout her school.
Additionally, Reese serves as a mentor for new teachers and runs a weekly chat on Twitter where teachers from inside and outside her district discuss homework, student motivation, technology and more.
Congratulations, Jamie Reese!
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