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Walnut teacher earns county's top education honors
teacher pic
Walnut sixth grade teacher Jamie Garner receives the 2013 Stanislaus County Teacher of the Year award for the 4th-6th grade division at a luncheon last week. - photo by Photo Contributed

Jamie Garner, a sixth grade teacher for the Discovery Math Science Program at Walnut Elementary, has long been a treasured educator to her students. Now, Garner's exemplary teaching has also earned her the title of 2013 Stanislaus County Teacher of the Year for the 4th-6th grade division.

“It’s because of the school that I am in this position,” said Garner. “I love teaching here because we are given so many opportunities to do such great things for the kids.”

Garner has worked on many projects with her students during her six years at Walnut, including the Future City Projects and has also helped her colleagues become more tech savvy by providing training. She is also currently in the running as a finalist for the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching, the nation’s highest honors for teachers in math and science.

Walnut Principal Mark Holmes, who nominated Garner for the Teacher of the Year award, says she consistently strives for excellence.

“Jamie possesses a wealth of qualities and skills that single out her teaching as exemplary,” said Holmes. “She sets extremely high standards for herself, and consequently her students. Her instructional focus and level of organization are phenomenal.  She is able to accomplish a tremendous amount of work in any given instructional day, and despite her exceptional qualifications, she seeks to learn and improve.”

Teachers were nominated by their principals and finalists were selected from 70 nominees representing 16 school districts in Stanislaus County.  A selection committee, composed of local Rotarians and educators, narrowed the nominations through a paper screening process and then visited the classrooms of the 12 finalists.

For Garner, being honored at the Rotary Luncheon meant more to her than all the fame and recognition from her colleagues. Her inspiration in becoming a teacher was right beside her.

“It was the most amazing thing,” said Garner. “At the awards ceremony last Tuesday my reason to become a teacher was there. She now works for Stanislaus County Office of Education and her name is Lisa Tiwater and she was my second grade teacher. She was so inspirational. It was magic because I wanted to be in her class every day. She was warm like a mother, but she had high expectations for us.”

Garner will have the chance to advance to the next level of the Teacher of the Year program, where she will have the opportunity to represent Walnut on a state level. Representatives of major educational and parent organizations and veteran teachers of the year make final selections. If she wins, she proceeds to a national level program.

Garner’s high spirit and energy is transmitted when she steps foot inside the classroom. She is always seeking new and creative ways to engage her students.

“My objective every day is to keep the kids wondering,” said Garner. “I want them to walk in every day wondering what project we are going to do and what material we are going to learn. If I can make it fun for them, it doesn’t feel like it’s as much work as it truly is and then everybody wins.”