Norman named JES Teacher of the Year

Apr. 25—THOMASVILLE- Second-grade teacher Jessica Norman's love for kids is on full display when entering her classroom. Her aptitude for teaching and hands-on activities has earned her the honored title of Teacher of the Year for Jerger Elementary School by her peers.

Norman first fell in love with teaching in high school when she completed the work leave program at Hand-in-Hand Primary School.

"I really loved it and thought maybe this is it (the job) for me," she recalled.

Norman then attended Thomas University for her undergraduate program, where she earned the distinguished title of Most Outstanding Bachelor of Science Student.

After completing her undergraduate degree, Norman entered the teaching field, working at several schools before landing at Jerger.

While at Jerger, Norman has made it her mission to make every kid feel welcomed and right at home.

"I love working with the kids; they are my favorite part of the job," she said. "Being a teacher has made me realize that every child deserves to have someone on their side. I want to be that person who is by their side through the good and the not-so-good."

Norman's loving approach is seen from the minute kids enter the classroom.

Each day, the students have a "soft opening."

Norman said this is when students can have conversations with one another and move about.

"These are so important for the start of our day," she said. "I love hearing their conversations with each other and joining in."

Once everyone has settled in, Norman begins her hands-on approach to the day, an approach both her peers and students appreciate.

"Kids learn better with hands-on activities, by getting their feet wet in things," she said. "We learn through music and manipulatives. I worked in Pre-K in my previous years and while I don't treat these kids like preschoolers, they still enjoy learning by doing things."

Recently, Norman celebrated Earth Day with her students, teaching them about recyclables before watching a video and questioning what the students could do to reduce, reuse, and recycle.

The students decided to recycle water bottles by creating wind chimes that Norman helped paint with watercolors and has now hung inside her classroom.

Seeing her teaching style recognized by her peers thrilled Norman, whose students shared in her excitement when she was announced Teacher of the Year.

"They all ran up and hugged me and gave me handwritten notes," she said. "I'm just thankful I was recognized because I really love my job and I'm happy my support system noticed it."

However, Norman knows she could not have done it without her support system.

"The amount of support from them and my family has kept me teaching and loving on my school kiddos," she said.

Now that Norman has achieved the goal of being named Teacher of the Year, she hopes to further her education. In 2020, she received a certificate in instructional technology, before receiving an endorsement in teacher leadership this year. She is currently pursuing a specialist degree in instructional technology with an add-on in library media.

While she has no plans of leaving the classroom any time soon, she hopes to eventually work in the school library to help all grade levels.

Jerger thanked Norman for all of her hard work and looks forward to what she does in the future with the school.

"We are blessed to have her as part of the Jerger family," said Principal Emily Newman.

Norman will now go on to compete for the title of District Teacher of the Year, which will be announced at a later Board of Education meeting.