Meet the 2016-17 NeSmith Teacher of the Year: Mrs. Janelle Ohr

  • What were the factors that influenced you to become a teacher? Mrs. Ohr

    I knew that teaching was in my future at a very young age. First, I had a huge love of reading and wanted to keep every book that I could get my hands on. Most kids my age loved going to the library, but not me. Knowing that I was going to have to return the books that I checked out was devastating! Eventually, I grew to understand that we could not afford, nor had the room for all the books that I wanted to read over and over again! I also remember when I used to get excited each night before bed because my mom would allow me to read to my younger twin brothers.
    I would pull up a chair between their beds and read chapters from my favorite books by Judy Blume, Beverly Cleary, and Gertrude Chandler Warner. They loved hearing about Fudge and his out of the ordinary behavior (Tales of the Fourth Grade Nothing)! I wanted to read the books to my brothers in the same manner in which my teacher had read them to my class. I was amazed by my teacher’s ability to make characters and events in a book seem so real. The excitement that she could create through the activities she planned to go along with the books was magical. As time progressed, I quickly noticed that not all my peers had this same love of reading and learning that I had. I knew then that I wanted to help spark this excitement in others as my teachers had in me.

    Describe what you consider to be your greatest contributions and accomplishments in education.

    Mrs. Ohr When thinking of my greatest contributions and accomplishments in education, I could describe the difficult and rigorous process of successfully receiving my National Board for Professional Teaching Standards Certification in 2002. I could also describe how I successfully went through the National Board renewal process in 2011. I could explain how when I first moved to California I was asked to assist in the development of adding 5th grade to College Prep Middle School’s already successful 6th through 8th grade. However, after deeply reflecting on this topic, I would have to say that the relationships that I have built with fellow colleagues, and the difference that I have made in students’ lives would have to be greatest. Having taught in 3 states (4 different school systems), I have had the opportunity to meet, learn from, and most importantly share my knowledge of teaching with many colleagues. Most importantly, taking what I have learned from others and sharing it or using it to make a difference in the life of a child. There is no better accomplishment or contribution than that.

    How are your beliefs about teaching demonstrated in your personal teaching style?  Mrs. Ohr TOY

    My beliefs about teaching are demonstrated throughout my personal teaching style. If you were to shadow me for a day, you would see that constant reflection is a part of my daily routine. I believe that the only way to achieve mastery is by reflecting on what you have done, and finding ways in which to improve it. This is especially true in the teaching profession. Being able to reflect on your own practices plays a large part in being a successful teacher.  When a lesson does not go exactly the way I would like, I am always on the lookout for new strategies, whether it is through independent research, staff development, or simply by collaborating and sharing activities with other teachers. When I receive the results of  a District Assessment, I not only look at the skills that each student is needing additional help with, but also if a large majority of the students are not understanding a specific concept.  This could mean that I am in need of help with the way in which I am teaching it.  If this is the case, I look for additional teaching strategies and/or ask other teachers for their input.