Hodge, who grew up in Glendora and resides in Long Beach, has taught in the Norwalk-La Mirada Unified School District for 16 years. She teaches 3D art, cartooning and studio art, and has been at Benton since 2010 when the campus became the district’s magnet school for visual and performing arts. She had been selected in the spring as the district’s Teacher of the Year and its entrant into the county contest.
“It's an overwhelming honor to represent the dedicated and hard-working teachers throughout L.A. County,” said Hodge about being named a county titlist.
Hodge believes in helping empower her students by teaching them to use communication tools as a way to make innovative contributions to society. "Teachers get to ignite motivation and spark creativity in students every day, and witnessing a student persevere in a new skill or discover a talent they didn't know they have is so rewarding,” she said.
Judged as the county’s top public school educators for this academic year, the winners were selected from a field of 61 teachers who participated in the 36th annual county contest. They will serve as standard-bearers for the teaching profession and their 72,000 classroom colleagues countywide. Each of the 16 winners received a $1,000 cash award from California Credit Union.
“Jennifer is a hard-working teacher and an exemplary educator,” said NLMUSD Board of Education President Sean M. Reagan. “We are very proud of her accomplishments in the classroom and she is very deserving of this special honor.”
District Superintendent Hasmik Danielian noted that Jennifer brings a wonderful work ethic to teaching the arts. “Like all our teachers, every day in the classroom she makes the most of a precious opportunity — to make a positive and lasting difference in the lives of students,” Danielian said.
Hodge is not the first NLMUSD to be a county titlist. There have been at least three other winners in the past. In 2000, Kristine Cvar, currently the NLMUSD’s director of elementary education, was named a county teacher of the year. Technology Coach Kelly Baker was named a county winner in 2013. And, Gerri Gandolfo, currently a counselor at La Mirada High School, was a county winner in 1997.
All 16 county winners automatically advance to the California Teachers of the Year competition sponsored by the state Department of Education. A total of five state winners are scheduled to be announced by state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson later in the fall.
But only one of the state winners will be selected to represent California in the National Teacher of the Year program next spring.