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Salute to Teachers: Jennifer Cline Inspired by Her Students’ Aha! Moments

Santa Barbara County Teacher of the Year to lead an all-star cast at Salute to Teachers gala

Then-Santa Barbara County schools Superintendent Bill Cirone announces Jennifer Cline as the 2018 Santa Barbara County Teacher of the Year on May 4. Cline teaches fifth grade at Oak Valley School in Buellton. Click to view larger
Then-Santa Barbara County schools Superintendent Bill Cirone announces Jennifer Cline as the 2018 Santa Barbara County Teacher of the Year on May 4. Cline teaches fifth grade at Oak Valley School in Buellton. (Brooke Holland / Noozhawk file photo)

[Noozhawk’s note: First in 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.]

Fifth-grade Oak Valley School teacher Jennifer Cline is Santa Barbara County’s 2018 Teacher of the Year.

As Noozhawk reported in May, Cline is being recognized for her compassion and enthusiasm for her students, and her work incorporating technology into the classroom.

| Salute to Teachers | Complete Series Index |

Buellton Union School District Superintendent Randal Haggard said he ranks Cline in the top 1 percent of teachers he’s observed in his 30 years in public education.

“Jennifer is a superstar, and she is humble,” he said in May. “Her approach to students is empathetic. She builds a community within her classroom that is rich for learning. She is a great representative for teaching.”

Cline grew up in the Santa Ynez Valley and moved back after attending San Diego State University for three semesters. She had always wanted to be a teacher but got counseled into taking business classes instead, and soon realized that was not what she wanted to pursue.

Cline finished her degree at Allan Hancock College in Santa Maria and later earned her credential and master’s degree from Chapman University. She started teaching at Oak Valley, the same school her children attended.

She is in her eighth year of teaching fifth grade.

She lives in Buellton with her husband of 25 years, and her two daughters also hope to become teachers.

The Teacher of the Year program recognizes and honors exceptional teachers on a district, state and national level. The award sets Cline in the running for consideration as California’s Teacher of the Year for 2018.

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

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?

Oak Valley School fifth-grade teacher Jennifer Cline is Santa Barbara County’s 2018 Teacher of the Year. Click to view larger
Oak Valley School fifth-grade teacher Jennifer Cline is Santa Barbara County’s 2018 Teacher of the Year. (Santa Barbara County Education Office photo)

Jennifer Cline: Ever since I was a child I have wanted to be a teacher. I love children and found myself getting babysitting jobs and finding ways to work with children. It just seemed natural to me.

Noozhawk: How long have you been teaching?

​JC: I have been teaching at the elementary level for 11 years. Before that I taught preschool for eight years.

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

JC: I love teaching all subjects, but my favorites are social studies, science and math. In social studies and science, I love to do hands-on group projects with simulations and experiments. In math, I am amazed at the way my students learn to persevere and respect everyone’s ideas and ways to discover answers.

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

JC: My favorite part to being a teacher would have to be seeing those aha! moments — those moments when a student is working hard to understand something and they finally figure it out.

I also enjoy forming connections with my students and learning about them so I am better able to meet their needs in class.

Noozhawk: What are the challenges of your job?

JC: Things outside of the classroom that are out of my control — things such as budget issues, changes in administration, and hardships that some of my students have to go home to.

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

JC: This year has been an interesting one as Teacher of the Year. I would say I am looking forward to representing the teachers of Santa Barbara County. I really want people to know the importance not just teaching children academically, but socially and emotionally as well.

Noozhawk: Who are your mentors?

JC: While I was finishing my education, I had several friends who were already teachers. They were definitely teachers I looked up to and strove to be like. My past principal, Lisa Maglione, was one who challenged me to be the teacher I am today — inside the classroom as well as a leader among my colleagues with technology at our school site.

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

JC: In my daily life I have to say my husband and children — Ron, Ashley and Caitlyn — are extremely supportive to me. I also would not be the teacher I am without my fifth-grade teammate, Lisa Melby. She encourages and supports me daily!

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

JC: I am very honored to be a part of the Salute to Teachers! I think it is important to recognize the hard work that teachers do inside and outside of the classrooms, to provide education and support for their students.

Noozhawk: Is there anything else you want to share?

JC: The process of becoming Santa Barbara County Teacher of the Year has been a lot of work, but a rewarding and reflective process. I’d like to thank Steve Keithley and his team at the Santa Barbara County Education Office for all their support!

Noozhawk managing editor Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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