Jessica Pack is a sixth-grade teacher at James Workman Middle School in Cathedral City. She is one of five 2014 California Teachers of the Year.
Pack was surprised with flowers and balloons at a special staff meeting Monday as her colleagues, county and Palm Springs Unified School District officials congratulated her.
“I was not expecting this today. I thought we were having a staff meeting,” said Pack. “It’s an honor and I’m humbled by the recognition.”
The language arts, social studies and technology teacher takes on the title after winning Teacher of the Year at the middle school, the district and county.
Out of the 260,000 teachers in California, the award doesn’t come as a surprise to her students.
“I think this was not unexpected. She’s a great teacher. I’m glad she made it all of the way up to the top,” said her former student, seventh-grader Michael Marks.
James Workman Middle School Principal Brad Sauer said Pack is an inspiration to students and staff. The award brings recognition not only to her but to the school and district.
“She quickly grabbed hold of the technology aspect and has been instrumental in bringing it to the classroom,” said Sauer.
“Teaching is my passion,” said Pack. “I think teaching takes heart and skill and I enjoy the challenge each day of being able to connect with kids and help them be academically successful.”
A “congratulations” banner with Pack’s photo will hang at the school in her honor. Students are proud to see it.
“I know I’m not getting the award, but it’s an honor,” said Pack’s former student Isaiah Roman. “To know my teacher is getting an award she deserves, it feels really good,” the seventh-grader said.
Pack will serve as an ambassador for California teachers. For her, it’s not about the award, it’s about impact.
“I love my students and they know that I do. If in any small way this helps inspire them to be successful in life, it’s a good thing,” she said.