Belen

Janet Tabet enjoys teaching fourth and fifth graders because they are at a neat age.

“They are still interested in learning. They like to work together on projects and get very involved in what we are learning,” said Tabet, who was named Belen School District’s Teacher of the Year for the elementary level.

“I was very surprised to receive this honor,” she said. “Everyone chosen as the teacher of the year for their school is a wonderful teacher. It as an honor to be chosen from among them.”

Tabet has been teaching at Rio Grande Elementary since she began teaching 12 years ago. She chose to join the profession after discovering she loved to teach children, while working with her young daughter.

“It is neat to be able to make a difference in someone’s life. I hope I am setting a good example for my students to become life-long learners,” she said. “Parents give me their child for the year. They are their precious gift, and they entrust their child to me to have a positive result.

“My goal is to have each student feel good about themselves and not to get turned off to school, so they will go on and get an education.”

Over the years, Tabet said, she has had many mentors, including Rio Grande Elementary principals Alfred Padilla, Christina Wright and Evelyn Bower, as well as her fellow teachers.

“I have gotten such wonderful ideas from my fellow teachers,” she said. “I have learned so much from them.”

Tabet’s fifth grade class mentors Molly Madden’s second grade class, which allows the teachers to team-teach.

“Mentoring is good for my students,” she said. “They learn patience while working with the younger students and get to develop a positive self-esteem regarding what they know.”

The classes of Tabet and Madden have also teamed up for the past five years in a Bosque Eco System Monitoring project in conjunction with the University of New Mexico.

“Each school year, the kids are getting real life experience while learning about the ecosystem in the Rio Grande bosque,” she said. “They also learn to be responsible with their environment.”

Tabet’s interest in science and language arts is transferred to her students through such projects.

“If the teacher is excited about the subject she is teaching, the students will be get excited,” she said. “I like to use science to develop lessons around and integrate language-art skills and math into the lesson.”

Computer technology is another educational tool Tabet likes to use in her classroom.

“I am really luck to have six computers in my classroom. All of my students are computer literate. I use the computers to enhance the students’ learning and literacy. They use them to research topics on the Internet,” she said.

Tabet feels her roll as a teacher does not stop when the students go home. She contributes to the learning environment of the school by serving on various committees, including textbook selection, technology training and peer mentoring.

“I believe it is good to be involved. I learn so much while working on the various committees, and that makes me a better teacher to my students,” she said.

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Jane Moorman