Southwest Elementary second grade teacher Jessica Hanvey is named USD 382 Teacher of the Year.

When Southwest Elementary second grade teacher Jessica Hanvey brought her class to an assembly Thursday afternoon, she wasn’t aware she was going to be the main subject of the gathering. Hanvey was named USD 382 Teacher of the Year and her students, along with the rest of the students, gave a big cheer when her name was announced.

On hand for the presentation were Hanvey’s mom Darci Jones, her husband Andrew, her aunt Kari Jones and her daughter Maci who is in kindergarten at Southwest. Hanvey also has a two-year-old daughter Kendyl.

Hanvey has been a teacher for 14 years. She taught second grade in Manhattan for three years before moving to Pratt. She was an English as a second language teacher at Skyline for a year then moved to USD 382 in 2009 and taught one year of fourth grade before moving to second grade where she remains today.

Hanvey said her family had a big influence on her becoming a teacher. Her grandmother Patsy Jones taught home economics and her aunt Kari Jones taught physical education at Skyline.

When she was little, Hanvey used to line up her dolls and pretend she was a teacher. Now that she’s been teaching for 14 years, her desire to teach remains as strong as ever.

“It’s a passion of mine. I get an adrenaline rush when I teach,” Hanvey said. “It’s very rewarding.”

While she enjoys getting paid to do something she loves to do, her real rewards are her students and her fellow teachers, Hanvey said.

With several class levels to choose from, Hanvey found that second grade was the match for her. She said there’s a home place for each teacher, including her, and each teacher finds that place through natural teaching development.

For a year, she taught fourth grade but she didn’t feel a flow with her students. It wasn’t home. But second grade was the place and that has been and continues to be her home, Hanvey said.

Teachers are a conduit for their students. Within five minutes of walking into the classroom, a teacher can get a good understanding of her students, she said. A teacher helps her students get ready to learn, both emotionally and physically.

“We can absorb our students problems and get them ready to learn,” Hanvey said.

Her favorite part of teaching is when a student makes a connection with her. Their whole demeanor changes. They open up and there is personality development. They become better learners and are willing to take risks.

Her biggest challenge in the classroom is that every student’s learning level is different and she has to balance those levels for each student. Some students are visual learners, some are hands on and she has to adjust to both and everything in between. It’s a task she doesn’t mind.

“I’ve got to adapt and modify to meet them where they are,” Hanvey said.

Hanvey is also looking to her future in education. She has completed her masters degree in curriculum and instruction at Kansas State University and a year and a half ago she completed her administrative program at Fort Hays State.

For now, Hanvey enjoys where she is and has no plans on leaving the classroom. But in the future, she may want a new challenge and get into administration and become a principal.