Congratulations to our 2023 Regional Teacher of the Year, Jennifer Proiette!
On Thursday, September 22, 2023, OESD 114 Superintendent Aaron Leavell presented Jennifer Proiette with the 2023 Regional Teacher of the Year award during the Port Angeles School District’s Board meeting.
Jennifer teaches kindergarten at Franklin Elementary School in the subject areas of English Language Arts, Math, Science, Social Studies. One example of how she engages all students in learning through creative & fun teaching strategies is by forming student groups of 5-6 students where they build words using magnetic letters to match sounds, tapping into visual, kinesthetic and auditory learning and making word-building fun and playful. She then connects reading & writing and students are then able to apply their skills to other subject areas
Jennifer believes that if students can enjoy learning, they will be willing to try anything that is put in front of them. Working in small groups gives them confidence to take the plunge and try new things.
With her colleagues and school leadership, she assisted with how the school creates fun and welcoming classrooms through a balanced & personalized process which certainly helps to calm nervous kindergartners stepping into a new school. As part of the process, each of the teachers met individually with all students & their parents to get to know them and their educational needs, which allowed the teachers to create equity & balance within classrooms. The result of this new system: every teacher knew all the students, creating a warm and friendly & safe environment where all teachers and students talked to one another in the halls. Jennifer’s experience also helped to guide two colleagues that were new to kindergarten.
Making connections between school, family, culture and community by helping students learn about relevant themes, is a strength of Jennifer’s. One example: Students learn about the industries, such as the paper mill in the community. They talk about what paper is made of, where and how it’s made. And then take a field trip to the McKinley paper mill where they watch how logs are turned into pulp and then pulverized. Back at school, they use the pulp they watched being created to make a piece of paper. The students also learn about local tribes, tell folklore stories, and study animals they might see in the Olympic National Forest.
Some observations from her colleagues:
- she accepts each of her students and takes on challenges with students struggling with academic, behavioral and physical needs
- she builds an inclusive classroom where learning is the expectation
- she has the ability to quickly assess students’ needs and provide instruction at their level
- she has a unique ability to remain calm in situations that would unravel many others
- she creates relationships with each child by being gentle and firm
- she has the ability to teach different levels and move forward, not leaving any child behind
- colleagues seek her out for guidance and leadership and she has successfully mentored many others
- she is often asked to serve on committees because of her sound, thoughtful, rational decision-making skills
- she works well with parents and as a result, they are supportive and dedicated to her
Jennifer is a strong proponent of funding for early interventions, noting that in primary grades, this funding could help struggling kindergartners get to grade level before 2nd grade. She observes that how hard a student will try in school and their attitude towards their entire academic career moving forward is often solidified around 3rd grade.
In her application for the 2023 WA State Teacher of Year, she noted that her message to all would be:
…“remember to let kids enjoy school. Teachers need to ensure that they help kids create a love for school and passion for learning. Giving students choices for writing topics, creating art on a regular basis, giving students a chance to use their creativity and to thrive can be done at all stages of their academic careers, if we give them the opportunity.”
She adds that “school is important and getting kids to school every day is vital for their development, confidence and overall well-being. When parents are a part of the journey with their children as a key participant, it will make their children stronger and more resilient.”
We are proud to honor Jennifer as the 2023 OESD 114 Regional Teacher of the Year!