FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WOWO): Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz announced that Jean Russell is the 2016 Indiana Teacher of the Year today. Russell is a literacy specialist at Haverhill Elementary School in Southwest Allen County Schools. She has been an educator for 25 years.
“As a literacy specialist, Jean uses her unique position to provide students and educators with innovative teaching and learning opportunities,” said Glenda Ritz, Indiana’s Superintendent of Public Instruction. “As a teacher leader, Russell supports student literacy by creating a culture of readers both in and outside the classroom. Her commitment to student-centered learning and family engagement is why I am excited to announce that Jean Russell is Indiana’s 2016 Teacher of the Year.”
A humble and touched Russell told WOWO news after she was honored Monday morning that her secret to success is student love. “And when they love you, they'll do anything…anything at all for you. So you really, really have to focus on the relationship you have with your kids, because their emotion drive their attention, and their attention drives their learning.” Russell, who says she'd do her job for free, says she was led to teach and believes she was meant to be a teacher.
Russell is a graduate of the University of Illinois where she earned a B.A. in Elementary Education. She later received a M.A. in Elementary Education from Indiana University – Purdue University Fort Wayne. Russell was a classroom educator for 21 years before becoming a literacy specialist. As Indiana’s Teacher of the Year, Russell will represent Indiana in the National Teacher of the Year competition. She will also tour schools in the next school year offering tips and encouragement to other teachers.
Updated at 12:03 PM