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Special education teacher Amy Payne declared as 2017 Teacher of the Year

Teacher+Amy+Payne+works+on+classwork+with+students+about+expenses.
Teacher Amy Payne works on classwork with students about expenses.

Teacher Amy Payne works on classwork with students about expenses.

Photo by Edna Hernandez

Photo by Edna Hernandez

Teacher Amy Payne works on classwork with students about expenses.

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After teaching at Degan and Southridge Elementary Schools, special education teacher Amy Payne found her home eight years ago when she chose to make the transition to high school.

Payne understands the hardships her students may face and works to help them gain the tools needed throughout high school so they can apply them later on in their lives.

“I won’t give up on my students,” Payne said. “I [understand] that they have good days and bad [ones]. [I treat] every day as a new day and try my best to put yesterday behind and move forward.”

As of 2017, Payne was recognized for her teaching abilities and kindness by the school staff as they submitted individuals who they felt is a good representation of the school for Teacher of the Year. After 27 teachers were nominated, teachers then voted on the top four. Payne was announced as the Teacher of the Year during the staff Christmas party.

“There are so many deserving and wonderful teachers that I work with, I am still shocked and honored that I was chosen,” Payne said.

As the winner Payne also receives a parking spot at the front of the school and a plaque.

“Everybody likes to be recognized and to be congratulated and told they’re doing a great job; teacher of the year is just that,” Kajs said. “Teachers who put a lot of time and energy into school, they really go above and beyond and never ask anything in return so this is the least we could do. It’s also being recognized by your peers [and] it’s a vote by all the teachers so it’s a neat thing.”

Lauren Johnson, a fellow mentee of Payne who now works in the same department, respects Payne’s profession while keeping a close relationship.

“Mrs. Payne has the ability to teach something in a variety of ways so that all of her students have the opportunity to learn,” Johnson said. “She knows how to accommodate every style of learner, build their confidence and create a fun, engaging learning environment.”

To take her success one step further, Payne is filling out an application for Teacher of the District. The application consists of general questions and essays reflective of her teaching.

“The district has sent me an application for district teacher of the year that I am actively working on,” Payne said. “I am excited to do my best to represent LHS as the Teacher of the Year to the best of my ability.”

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