A natural inclination to teach

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Jenny Diesbury-Lathrop earned the Teacher of the Year award

By Kirsten Laskey

Teaching seems to be in Jenny Diesbury-Lathrop’s genes. “Since I was a little kid, I played school so I think it was just in me since I was born,” she said.

Diesbury-Lathrop, a fifth-grade teacher at Aspen Elementary School, has stayed true to her educator instincts.  She has taught in the Los Alamos Public Schools for 14 years. For three years, she has worked at Aspen Elementary School. Previously, she taught at Mountain Elementary School.

People seem to be paying attention. Recently, Diesbury-Lathrop earned this year’s Teacher of the Year award.

“I am completely overwhelmed,” she said. “It’s a huge honor. There are many, many, good teachers in this district so to be chosen as the teacher of the year is a huge compliment.”

According to a press release, Diesbury-Lathrop displays many of the qualities of a great teacher.

For instance, she is well-rounded in the craft of teaching, current on educational theories, definitive of a life-long learner, thoughtful and intentional in her lesson planning, respectful of students, parents and colleagues and willing to serve on LAPS committees, especially curriculum writing committees.

Besides a natural inclination to teach, Diesbury-Lathrop credits having been taught by several great teachers as a factor for her decision to be an educator.

One of them, Sue Spagnuolo, was her teacher for fifth and sixth grade. Diesbury-Lathrop describes Spagnuolo as great and a lot of fun. Spagnuolo’s influence is so deep that Diesbury-Lathrop said she still keeps in touch with her favorite teacher.

Working in the LAPS district is another plus. “I think we have a parent community that values education and supports it … and we are treated as professionals in the district. There really is an art to teaching and the district values that,” she said.

Despite the honor of receiving the Teacher of the Year award, Diesbury-Lathrop is not stopping there.

She is in the process of earning her national board certification. Additionally, Diesbury-Lathrop said another highlight was receiving her master’s degree in reading education in 2004 from the University of Northern Colorado.

And she said she will continue to teach. “I never intend to leave the classroom until I’m done,” Diesbury-Lathrop said. “I really don’t picture myself leaving the classroom, there is too much value in (that).”

Looking into the future, Diesbury-Lathrop said she hopes to record more of what goes on in her classroom. She said it would be fun to document activities in her classroom in a formal manner.

With the school year wrapping up, winning this award would seem to be the major highlight, but Diesbury-Lathrop can think of another shining quality to the 2009-2010 school year.

“This class has been great this year,” she said. “(It is) part of what made me rise to the occasion … this class kind of brought out the best in me.”