Skyline Schools honored a teacher Monday who is described by her peers and administrators as hard-working, optimistic, inspirational and dedicated. Plus, she bakes great stuff for students and staff.

Joyce Depenbusch, middle school science teacher, is the district’s Teacher of the Year for 2014-15.

Co-worker Michael Nelson, charged with writing a poem in her honor — it seems that Depenbusch usually pens a poem for the honoree — instead reached out to former students via Facebook. They responded, with funny stories about a kid eating not one but two worms on a dare from another student, and Depenbusch doing the splits when a beaker of vegetable oil was spilled in her classroom.

There were also more poignant messages: “She has an amazing sense of humor, coupled with a sense that she really cares about you, not just as a student, but as a person,” and “I hope everyone has a teacher who so cares about what they teach and who they teach.”

Regena Penka, a retired Skyline teacher, did come through with a poem, in which she described Depenbusch as organized, optimistic, competent, consistent, devoted and determined, who develops nifty ways to teach.

Depenbusch related that she had attended an educational conference in which teaching middle school was compared to being in a popcorn popper when the oil gets really hot and the kernels are about to pop.

When she returned to teaching after her children were born, however, she worked as a substitute in several districts and several grade levels. She said her husband Gene noticed that she always had the most interesting stories to tell when she taught middle school.

Working in a small district like Skyline has given her opportunities to wear many hats, including directing the school play and serving as ESL (English as Second Language) supervisor.

Superintendent Mike Sanders commented on her valuable help during a year when he served as both superintendent and K-8 principal.

“I couldn’t have done it without her help,” he said.