Thursday, November 15 , 2018, 7:55 pm | Fair 58º


Salute to Teachers: Solvang Native Jani Lindberg Found Purpose as a Teacher After Working Other Jobs

[Noozhawk’s note: Part of a series on the teachers who will be honored Oct. 28 at A Salute to Teachers, presented by Cox and the Santa Barbara County Education Office. Click here for a complete series index.]

Jani Lindberg, a Solvang native, came to teaching after holding an assortment of jobs — everything from working as an au pair, in property management and the wine industry — and realizing she was not fulfilled. 

She had earned her bachelor’s degree in liberal studies at California State University, Chico. After earning a dual credential in Multiple Subject K-8 and Mild to Moderate Special Education at Antioch University in 2015, she accepted a teaching position at Santa Ynez Valley Union High School.

| Salute to Teachers | Complete Series Index |

Lindberg, who is being recognized as a 2018 Distinguished New Educator, teaches special education and world cultures at the high school, in addition to coaching basketball. 

In nominating Lindberg, her mentor Stephanie Gogonis wrote the third-year teacher is an amazing resource specialist. Gogonis wrote that not only does Lindberg have a good rapport with students, but parents appreciate her, too. Lindberg emails parents frequently and encourages them to visit her before or after the school day.

Eight educators are being recognized at A Salute to Teachers event Oct. 28, hosted by Cox Communications and the Santa Barbara County Education Office.

Santa Ynez Valley Union High School teacher Jani Lindberg is being recognized as a 2018 Distinguished New Educator. Click to view larger
Santa Ynez Valley Union High School teacher Jani Lindberg is being recognized as a 2018 Distinguished New Educator. (Contributed photo)

Fifth-grade teacher Jennifer Cline, at Oak Valley Elementary School in Buellton, is Santa Barbara County’s 2018 Teacher of the Year, and​ Garson Olivieri, a teacher at Cabrillo High School in Lompoc, is being recognized as the Santa Barbara Bowl Performing Arts Teacher of the Year.

Distinguished new educators being honored this year include Desiree Hitch from Ernest Righetti High School in the Santa Maria Joint Union High School District; Jani Lindberg from Santa Ynez Valley Union High School and Santa Ynez Valley Special Education Consortium; and Kelly Keene from San Marcos High School in the Santa Barbara Unified School District.

Distinguished mentors include Christine Petrone from Manzanita Public Charter School in the Lompoc Unified School District; Denise Stevens from Rice Elementary in the Santa Maria-Bonita School District; and Kevin O’Hara from Carpinteria Middle School in the Carpinteria Unified School District.

Noozhawk Q&A

Noozhawk: Why did you decide to become a teacher? 

Jani Lindberg: I always wanted to become a teacher growing up because I was surrounded by good teachers both within my family and schools.  My parents continue to be my favorite teachers, but I can also list all of my teachers' names and grade that I had growing up.

After some traveling, living abroad, living in cities, and working a few different jobs, I realized I was ready for a career that I was passionate about and could do long term. I wanted to be part of something big that had an impact on the world. Education and connectivity with others has always been important to me, so it only made sense that the time was right to become a teacher.

I appreciate the journey I've had to get here, but I've never been more confident that this was one of the best decisions I've ever made. When I told my mom that it was time to become a teacher, she reassured me, 'The purpose of life is a life of purpose.' I couldn't agree more, and I'm just so incredibly blessed to have the opportunity to do what I love and love what I do.

Noozhawk: How long have you been teaching?

JL: I started my third year as mild-moderate special education teacher this August. I began in 2015 at Santa Ynez Valley Union High School.

Noozhawk: What is your favorite subject/lesson plan to teach your students? 

JL: In my class, students learn effective study strategies, helpful organization tips, life related and social skills. We create a comfortable and positive environment for students to work on assignments, tasks and assessments, make progress towards their Individualized Education Plan (IEP) goals and are encouraged to plan ahead for transitioning to after high school.

Students in my tutorial class are able to work on homework completion, prepare for assessments, work in groups from common subjects, but also have the opportunity and support to create resumes, complete practice job applications, money skills, and researching various colleges.

I love the idea that I am teaching skills to use in the real world.  Teenagers are young adults, so every single day and lesson is important in setting them up to succeed after they leave my classroom. 

Noozhawk: What is your favorite part of being a teacher?

JL: My favorite part of teaching is witnessing students become proud of themselves.  I want my students to realize that they have the power to work hard, make good decisions, be confident, ask for help and to celebrate their successes. I truly enjoy watching the progress students make and just being part of that is incredible.    

Noozhawk: What are the challenges of your job?

JL: It's challenging to be patient. There's so much I'd like to achieve with my students, classes and school, and I'm eager to go and do. I work hard to be proactive, to do my job well, to make a difference, speak up, be present and fight to be the teacher that every student deserves.

Noozhawk: What are you most looking forward to this school year?

JL: I look forward to seeing some of my first students graduate high school.  I've been able to support them through passing classes, joining clubs or teams, going through some difficult times and celebrating great achievements. I am also eager to connect with more students and colleagues to create a more positive and encouraging environment for learning, having fun and being successful. 

Noozhawk: Who are your mentors?

JL: My mentors include my parents, family, teacher-friends, team, co-workers and every single teacher I've ever had.  I recall every teacher I've ever had and some I've even been able to thank and say that I'm now paying it forward. So, if you ever were my teacher, aide, substitute, student teacher, teacher mentor, or coach, thank you.

Noozhawk: Who are the people in your life and work environment who support you every day?

JL: Most importantly, I find inspiration everyday from the good Lord. With him, anything is possible.

My parents and family have always been my biggest cheerleaders and continue to lift me up.  At school, my mentor and friend, Stephanie Gogonis, who nominated me, continues to inspire and support me as an educator and colleague. My director Claudia Echavarria told me at the beginning, that the best way to gain respect is to do you job.

I am surrounded by an incredible team that exemplifies hard work, makes huge differences in countless lives, laughs through the challenges. It definitely takes a village. 

Noozhawk: How does it feel to be honored as part of the Salute to Teachers? 

JL: This recognition from Salute to Teachers is absolutely incredible. I have worked very hard and I truly am grateful to receive this award. It's reassurance that I am living my purpose and doing what God put me here to do.

It's humbling to be recognized in such a way that's so outstanding. I also share this honor with my team and everyone who helped me along the way. Teaching resource in mild-moderate special education is truly the most rewarding position that brings light and joy to my life that I then get to share.

I am grateful and feel special from my students every day, but this award definitely sets the bar higher and is the most delicious icing on the cake. 

Noozhawk: Is there anything else you want to share? 

JL: Thank you to every single teacher and educator.  It is an absolute honor to play on this team knowing the impact we make together.

Noozhawk special projects editor Melinda Johnson can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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