Teacher of the Year Winners - 2016-2017 | Inter-State Studio

Congratulations to our 2016-2017 Teacher of the Year!

Teacher of the Year

Jessica Sutton

7 & 8th Grade Special Education

Hardin Middle School


It is my honor to write this letter of recommendation for Mrs. Jessica Sutton. Mrs. Sutton teaches our highest needs Special Education students.  This was not her first assignment when I arrived as principal eight years ago.  At that time Mrs. Sutton taught in a co-teach and resource capacity on a seventh grade team.  Jessica worked hard to gain as much knowledge and understanding of the various subject areas by gaining secondary certifications in ELA, Social Studies, Science and Math.  Mrs. Sutton is a lifelong learner as evidences by her current pursuit a Master’s Degree.

A few years ago there was a need to fill a position in a room where our students have the greatest needs for support and caring due to cognitive/social challenges.  When I approached Mrs. Sutton to take on this difficult task she embraced the idea.  Jessica was chosen for this position because I believed she had a kind heart, passion for her students and a patience/understanding that was beyond the scope of many teachers. 

While I believed Jessica would be successful, I must admit her performance in her new role was nothing short of amazing.  She took control, reorganized, redecorated and created a space that was warm and welcoming.  Mrs. Sutton studied her new students and instantly understood and fought to secure the things her students needed to succeed.  Mrs. Sutton looked at, and focused on, what her students can do verses what they can’t.  Her vision has been spot on. 

Since Mrs. Sutton took over it is common to see her students working on projects/jobs all over the building.  It is awesome to see Jessica’s students interacting in and outside school taking the local transportation, attending movies and various other events.  Mrs. Sutton is more than a teacher of academics, she preparing her students for life.  The impact Jessica has made on her colleagues, the students and staff at Hardin has been remarkable.  It is my honor to work with such a professional.

Peer Division Winner

Steve Jones

4th Grade 

Leman Academy of Excellence

This year Mr. Jones teaches a 4th grade class of about 28 students.  I enjoy watching him come around these crazy kids from all backgrounds and with individual needs and different learning styles.  He speaks softly.  He always holds a kind and genuine smile.  He is patient, and respectful towards all.  We are now half way through the school year, and I notice that his students have begun to emulate him as they, too, speak softly and kindly and with respect to each other!  His students are not perfect, as none of us can be.  That is when Mr. Jones really demonstrates his talents.  He bends down, looks the child in the eye, and they have a talk.  It is difficult to hear exactly what is said, because both parties are speaking quietly.  But it is a conversation that impacts the child’s heart.  His students work hard in his class, and are proud to show off their accomplishments.  I am impressed at how each student is advancing academically, even the ones that started out a little behind the others.  Parents frequently compliment Mr. Jones to administration.  He is a favorite on campus.

Mr. Jones is a special teacher.  My hope is that he will be recognized for his talent, his ambition, and his very big heart. 

Student Division Winner

Jason Best

Science – 4th Grade

Rimersburg Elementary School

Mr. Best is an awesome teacher!  He has helped me become more confident this year.  I have Autism, and Mr. Best has been very helpful in many ways.  One way he has helped me is by helping me organize my papers, books, and folders for my backpack.  He treats me with a lot of respect, and we have great conversations.  He never talks down to me, and he even does special things to help motivate students.  He drew an awesome dragon picture for me when I completed a really long chapter book about dragons. 

He is Union School District’s very own “Bill Nye, the Science Guy.”  He makes science fun by having us do experiments and other hands-on activities.  The closet in his classroom is full of materials for science experiments.  We learn lots of different scientific facts from Mr. Best.  Time flies by in science class because he makes it so interesting.

I want to be a scientist and inventor when I grow up.  It was great having Mr. Best as my teacher this year in fourth grade because he helped me learn more about science and inventing.  His class was a perfect fit for me!  Mr. Best is one of the BEST!