South Bend Schools names teacher of the year

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - It’s often an underappreciated job, one in which thanks can be hard to come by. But Tuesday afternoon, South Bend teachers were honored for their tireless work in shaping the young minds of tomorrow.

“It's just a great night for our staff, recognizing our staff,” South Bend Community School Corporation Superintendent Kenneth Spells said. “For me, it's right up there with graduation.”

Thirty teachers, one from each school, were honored at the 40th teacher of the year awards. But only one could come away with the coveted corporation teacher of the year.

“It was really a shock,” Diana Jasinski said.

A Warren Elementary School kindergarten teacher, Diana Jasinski was surprised to be this year's honoree. She had to submit a lengthy portfolio to be considered by the committee.

“You really do a lot of soul-searching, and I'd work at it and then I'd throw it away,” Jasinki said. “And then, I'd work at it again. I just said what I really, honestly felt, so maybe that was it.”

Spells said passion is the quality he was most looking for in candidates.

“They have to love students,” he said. “They have to be crazy about kids. They have to understand their field. They have to be a teacher that goes above and beyond the call of duty for their students.”

With nearly 50 years of teaching experience in her career, nowadays, Jasinski says the biggest issue schools are experiencing today is drug use in families.

“There are so many different avenues that this one issue touches that I don’t think anybody really realizes how a little 5-year-old can be affected,” Jasinski said.

While Jasinski came away with the distinguished honor, Spells says South Bend is full of great educators.

“I'm proud of the work they do every day,” he said. “I'm proud of the commitment they have to our kids.”

Jasinski will be the teacher the school corporation nominates for the Indiana teacher of the year award. In addition, she will receive a $1,000 grant.