Cal Middle School’s Jennifer Ellerman Named Sacramento County Teacher of the Year

e-Connections Post California

After a rigorous selection process, California Middle School’s Jennifer Ellerman was named one of two Sacramento County 2013 Teachers of the Year at an awards ceremony on Wednesday, August 15. She will now compete in the state contest whose winners move on to the national level.

“I was totally and completely surprised,” said Ellerman of her win. “All the other teachers were so worthy.”

Ellerman co-teaches seventh grade language arts in a classroom that includes both Special Education and general education students. She has taught 13 years; in the fall, she will start her third year at Cal.

“What’s unique about Jennifer is that she really believes that all of her students can be successful,” says Cal Principal Elizabeth Vigil. “The kids know she believes in them, and because of that she makes magical connections with them.”

In her essays about teaching, Ellerman wrote that she was inspired as a student by a teacher who helped her overcome a difficult period in her life. Partly because of her father’s drug addiction, her family was briefly homeless. Her fifth grade teacher was sympathetic but never lowered her expectations.

“She gave me extra time and support and held me accountable for producing my personal best,” Ellerman wrote. “She created a safe place for me where I was expected to excel in spite of the fact that my personal situation would have given her every reason to cut me slack…slowly, my courage and self-belief began to grow.”

In addition to her co-teaching responsibilities, Ellerman is one of several SCUSD teachers working to implement Common Core Standards, which help teachers ensure their students have the skills and knowledge they need to be successful by providing clear goals for learning.

The morning following the Teachers of the Year awards ceremony, Ellerman and fellow winner Bob Crongeyer, who teaches in the Robla School District, were interviewed on KCRA.