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Westport Names Teacher of the Year

Recently named 2011 Teacher of the Year Jennifer Ackerman, a fourth-grade teacher at Long Lots Elementary School, isn't letting the title go to her head.

"I have mixed feelings about it," said Ackerman, 36. "I know I'm not the best teacher in the district, I just think people see a good balance of what children need from a teacher in me."

And for Ackerman, this balance consists of humor, hard work, loving what you do and making kids feel good about themselves.

"I don't know what I had that they were looking for, but it's a great way to start the school year," she said. "I'm completely overwhelmed and humbled. And it motivates me even more now that I have a title to live up to."

Whatever the reason, Ackerman said she would not have won the title without the support of others.

"In Westport, we [educators] work as a team," she said. "My team has given me what I need to be successful. For me to take this title alone feels silly."

Ten years ago, this Bethel resident and mother of a 1-, 4- and 6-year-old started her teaching career at the school. She was a supplemental math and reading teacher, spent six years as a second-grade teacher and has been teaching fourth-grade for three years.

For Ackerman, though, being a teacher wasn't a lifelong goal.

"I was never that kid who wanted to grow up and be a teacher," she said. "Health education was my undergraduate focus. And after college, I worked in that field for three years."

Having become a project manager in her field by 24, she craved something more and got a master's in elementary education.

"I always loved school; it was a great place for me," Ackerman said. "Once I started in elementary education, I loved it."

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