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Jennifer Aufforth named WUSD Teacher of the Year

Jennifer Aufforth has almost two decades of experience as an educator at Wasco High School. This year, she is the recipient of the Wasco Union High School District's Teacher of the Year award for her creativity, hard work, contagious spirit, innovative teaching skills and extraordinary commitment and unwavering passion for her students.

A WHS alumnus, she said her students have kept her teaching English at her alma mater for so many years. "I love what I do. I'm teaching a subject that I've always loved, and I get to introduce that subject to new students every year. And it never gets boring. The best part of my job is seeing the 'light bulb moment' that the student got it or realized something about the content. It just makes it's fun."

She had a few inspirations when it came to entering the profession. "My dad was a teacher. It was something I always knew about. It was always an option for me. When I was little, I would arrange all of my stuffed animals to be students and be at the front of the class teaching them."

She said what she enjoys most about teaching is "the students. I get to be with wonderful kids all day, every day."

Apart from teaching, she is heavily involved in other activities. She is a club advisor for the Tiger Tales Book Club, co-advisor for the California Scholarship Federation, one of five academic coaches for the English Department and a mentor to two teachers.

She said of being named the 2024 Teacher of the Year, "I think it is very kind. I'm not sure I deserve it. Everybody has been so thoughtful. I was overwhelmed with the love, and I was surprised, but I was also grateful. It does mean a lot to know that your peers think you are doing a good job."

When asked what her teaching style is and how she thinks it makes her stand out, she shared, "There is a lot that goes into it. What drives me is I want to do things I love and show my enthusiasm because if I don't, they won't. If teachers do not love what they are doing, they should not be teaching. You have to love it. If you love and enjoy it, they will, too. I try to make it interesting. I decorate around a theme. Sometimes I get into character, or I have the kids get into characters. It makes it fun for me, too."

Looking ahead, she has goals and aspirations for the future of her teaching career. "My focus right now is being the best academic coach I can be. Those are the skills I am trying to hone now to help teachers be their best. I know my style now, and my focus is to help other teachers succeed in their classes and find their style."

As Teacher of the Year, she hopes to convey the message to her peers and to the broader educational community: "My main message is that students come first, and that should be our motivation. They are our motivation."

 

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